Cheetah re-introduction – Read more here

The cheetah is one of the world’s most endangered cats existing only in fragmented populations. Many of these populations are found in private game reserves; outside of which commercial and subsistence farming threatens their survival. Protected reserves play a vital role in protecting cheetah and maintaining their genetic diversity. But you can’t just ‘have’ a cheetah. Listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red Data List, permits are necessary to hold them on your reserve. You must show you have the correct habitat as well as prey and predator balance to provide for them successfully.

Project aims:

The project aims to provide a safe habitat in which the endangered cheetah can thrive, breed and contribute to their species survival and genetic viability.

 What’s being done?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

In January 2009 a coalition of 3 brothers arrived on Pidwa from the cheetah conservation group “DeWildt”. DeWildt hold DNA information on a huge percentage of the cheetah in private reserves in South Africa. They use this information to distribute cheetah to the relevant geographical areas for optimum gene distribution. The existing resident coalition on Pidwa north was nearing the end of its lifespan and to ensure continued breeding, new and younger genes needed to be brought in. Due to the fact the cheetah trio had not experienced lions before the decision was taken to place them first on Langa langa. This way they could familiarise with lions across the fence without any deadly encounters. In future a female will also be introduced to add to the cheetah population.

The role of volunteers:

  • Boma construction – Due to their strong homing instinct, any re-located cat must first be placed in a holding boma. There are stringent requirements for the boma and once built it must be inspected by the provincial conservation authority. Volunteers carried out the clearing of vegetation, repairing of water troughs and making of roads to ready the boma for the cats arrival.
  • Boma feeding – Whilst in the boma the cheetah must be provided with food. Volunteers assist in delivering impala to the boma once or twice a week to feed the cheetah
  • Monitoring – Once released the cheetah coalition must be monitored closely. Each individual is fitted with a radio collar which emits a signal to be picked up with receiver equipment. Volunteers must learn the use of the telemetry equipment to locate and see the cheetah. Once found, data on the cheetah location, condition and behaviour is recorded. Where possible, kill data is collected and a full-rating system used to estimate when kills are made. Any interactions with other predators must also be noted. This data is returned to DeWildt and used to assist future decisions relating to cheetah placement.

 

© Askari Wilderness Conservation Programme

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