Two days after lighting fire consumed the entire Visitors Centre at the Cheetah Conservation Fund’s (CCF) International Field Research and Education Centre, the feeling was almost “back to normal.” Almost, save for the remnants of the building that served as a classroom for kids, youth and farmers, and a welcoming shady spot for weary visitors.
The fire, which started on Wednesday afternoon (16 October 2013) when lighting hit the roof, was still showing activity yesterday morning. Only the walls are still standing, and intense cleanup work continues today.
CCF’s staff, volunteers, and interns, still exhausted from fighting bravely to contain the fire, were back to work early the next morning to restore normalcy. By mid-morning, they were welcoming visitors to the Centre with a smile and providing them with the unique experience of watching “Conservation in Action” at CCF.
From Canada, where CCF’s Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Laurie Marker, received the news during a lecture tour, the following statement was issued: “This is a stunning loss. CCF is my home, and its staff is like my family, and we are all just reeling from the shock.”
The Visitors Centre building not only housed CCF’s gift shop, but also contained the classrooms that are used as part of its Future Farmers of Africa programme, the Cheetah Café and related kitchen, and a staff apartment.
The public show of support has been overwhelming and reassuring. The loss of a storage room full of educational and promotional materials was felt most deeply, as it impacts CCF’s ability to continue educating children, youth and Namibian farmers about the importance of conservation. “We are already asking for quotes in the hope that we can replace our most important tools of instruction as quickly as possible,” said Patricia Tricorache, CCF’s Assistant Director for International Programmes.
CCF is a not-for-gain association relying almost entirely on donations.
Help is welcome in the way of visitors to the Centre, located 44 km east of Otjiwarongo, at the foot of the magnificent Waterberg Plateau, or donations. Please visit www.cheetah.org
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