The SanWild Wildlife Trust started its Cheetah Conservation Program on the 2nd December 2010 when the SA National Parks donated three cheetah males to us. Initially the coalition of brothers was kept in a natural habit release enclose and was released on the 8th September 2011. On the 9th October 2011, they made their first successful kill – a young kudu.
Just over a year later, on the 20th November 2012 one of the males was spotted with a severe eye injury and surgery was scheduled a week later. Unfortunately, although the surgery went well, the cheetah lost sight in this eye, but it did not seem to hinder its life as a wild cheetah.
Two years later with the help of our donors we raised sufficient funding to purchase two female cheetahs from the Mount Camdeboo Game Reserve in the eastern Cape. They arrived on the 8th December 2014 and were released on the 28th June 2015.
To our absolute delight the bigger one of the two females gave birth to 5 cubs that was first spotted on the 5th May 2016 when they were estimated to be about 6 weeks old. Since then mom lost one of her cubs, but she has successfully raised four of them into young adults that will all be relocated in conjunction with African Parks to the Liwonde National Park in Malawi to form part of the newly established free-roaming cheetah population.
SanWild currently has the highest number of cheetah in the wild in the Lowveld Meta-population group.
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Some cheetah facts:
In 1900, there were over 100,000 cheetahs across their historic range. Today, an estimated 9,000 to 12,000 cheetahs remain in the wild in Africa and their habitat is now only 25% of its former range. In Iran, there are around 200 cheetahs living in small isolated populations.
After many conservation efforts, the cheetah population in South Africa has boosted to more than 1,000 individuals. Previously in 2013, there were an estimated population of between 1,200 and 1,300 cheetahs in South Africa. The species is listed as vulnerable which means their population numbers continue to decline, but what is the biggest threat to the remaining cheetahs?
The biggest is habitat loss due to human encroachment.
In addition, Cheetahs tend to encounter conflict with farmers when loss of their natural prey leads them to attack livestock, and farmers kill them, as pests, in retaliation.,
There is also high cub mortality due to predation by carnivores like lions and hyenas that are in competition with the cheetah, as well as genetic inbreeding which leads to abnormalities.
The average life span of cheetahs in captivity is 10-12 years though cheetahs can live as long as 20 years. In the wild, few survive more than 8 years though they can live up to 10 or 12 years. Cub mortality is extremely high for the species in both the wild and captivity.
The Cheetah is the fastest land animal reaching speeds of 45 – 70 mph. They have also been known to swim, although they do not particularly like to. They are not one of the Great Cats because they do not have a floating hyoid bone in its neck and cannot roar, therefore it is a Lesser cat