We are extremely excited to let everyone know that the three cheetah males donated to SanWild by SA National Parks from the Mountain Zebra National Park arrived today. Thanks to Dave Zimmerman and his team the capture and subsequent relocation went without a hitch. The arrival of the males is the first phase of our plans to establish a cheetah breeding program in the wild in order to assist the Endangered Wildlife Trust to increase cheetah number in the Cheetah Metapopulation.
Dave and his team arrived in the late afternoon and the three males were released into a pre-release 30 x 30 meter holding enclosure to give them time to settle down in their new home. The re-homing instinct in almost all wildlife is quite strong and if they are relocated to new reserves they will automatically try and find their old territories. With predators this instinct is particularly strong and in many instances has resulted in breakouts. It is there for better to confine the animals to a smaller area from where they are unlikely to escape and habituate them to people that also make it easier to monitor them after release.
The three males obviously frustrated by the long road journey from the Eastern Cape could not wait to get out of the transportation crates. Here we learnt a valuable lesson in that one should never just open a crate and let the cheetahs rush out. As the animals ran out into the small area that is fenced pretty well, the speed at which they came out of the crates had one male run into the enclosure fence and right through.
Had it not been for his two siblings that remained inside the enclosure we believe he would have continue running and would have escalated the risk of him escaping the reserve. Within a half an hour of understanding that they were in foreign territory the two brothers started calling to him and by the next morning he had returned to the enclosure pacing up and down the fence to get to his brothers. We are so fortunate that cheetah brothers share a strong bond and that this bond brought him back so we could dart and return him to the enclosure and his brothers.
Our sincere appreciation goes to SA National Parks for their generous donation and also to Dave Zimmerman and his team. We would also like to thank Vincent van der Merwe the Metapopulation Coordinator of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Carnivore Conservation Program for their help in getting this conservation program started.