I am Cynthia Knuppe, a 28 year old woman with a Dutch nationality. In the Netherlands I used to work as a dental hygienist for about six years. In the beginning of 2012 I decided to take a sabbatical and that’s when I came to South Africa. I like to travel and have already seen a lot of this beautiful country. I have a passion for big cats and that became bigger after I did some volunteer work in 2011. When I got the opportunity to come to Inverdoorn I didn’t have to think long. I am now volunteering at the Western Cape Cheetah Conservation. The work is different every day. One thing I really like here is cheetah tracking.
Just before I arrived at Inverdoorn they released two cheetahs, a male and a female, in the main reserve. They both got a radio collar so we can track them and monitor them. Both the cheetahs have a different signal. Every morning and every afternoon Leah, the main cheetah handler, has to track the cheetahs to see how they are doing. Every now and then I am lucky and can join her with tracking. After Leah showed me a couple of times I was able to hold the aerial and locate the cheetah. This is not as easy as it looks. You must listen to the sound the device makes and see from which direction the signal comes. Then you must put the device on a different setting and see again from which side the signal is the strongest. So little by little you know where about the cheetah should be. At last you know the cheetah is close and then we must walk through the bush and try to spot the cheetah. Their camouflage is so good that it is hard to see them. Sometimes you will find a kill and then you know the cheetah is around.
It is really nice to see that the cheetahs are doing well even though there is a difference between the male and the female. The male stays more or less in the same area while the female is moving through the whole reserve and therefore more difficult to find. The female hunts more than the male does. I hope they will release more cheetahs in the reserve in the future.