Few people can consider packing up their lives, travelling half way across the world and throwing themselves into a conservation organisation in order to live and breathe the preservation of a threatened species. Even fewer would consider giving up their life’s luxuries for an entire year. And yet, this was the level of dedication shown by Gaelle Michel and Emilien Terrade, who finished up their one-year volunteer placement with us this week. Emilien joined our research field team where he was involved in several camera-trap studies, spoor surveying and capacity building of local staff. Gaelle teamed up with our community outreach department where she used her skills in veterinary nursing to assist with our livestock guarding dog programme, including developing a new training and health care procedures manual for all our livestock guarding dog recipients and expertly training our new cheetah scat detection dog, Loeto. Gaelle and Emilien have endured the harsh Kalahari heat, the dust, the winter whirlwinds and swarms of bugs so thick you couldn’t see through them. They have worked in some of the most remote parts of Botswana; straddling the edge of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and camping where there is little but the sounds of lions to keep you up at night. We are thankful to Gaelle and Emilien for all their hard work this last year. We wish them luck as they travel back to their homeland of France and we wish them well in their endeavours in future. “This year was full of learning, good time and work of course! I feel lucky and happy to have been involved in this amazing project, which is a great contribution to the protection of cheetahs.” – Gaelle Michel.
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