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Tuesday, 14 March 2006

Cheetah Update: Shiraz

From your last update on Shiraz, we’d like to tell you a bit more about her and what she has been doing over the past six-month period. She has had an exciting and joyful six months, that’s for sure!

As you know, Shiraz came to CCF in August 2001 with her brother, Merlot and mother Chardonnay. Her mother died shortly after coming to CCF and she had to be separated from her brother, Merlot, as both had reached sexual maturity. She and Merlot were put together with other cheetahs of similar sex. Shiraz has been living with 10 other females in the 200 acre Bellebeno cheetah enclosure.

In mid-April 2005, two wild male cheetahs were seen in our camera-traps near the Bellebeno cheetah pen. One had a badly damaged tail, so we set a trap cage and captured him and indeed his tail needed to be amputated. We named him Bob. After his tail we couldn't put him in a standard cheetah box to catch his brother, who we needed to catch so that they could convalesce together before releasing them both back into the wild together, we housed Bob in one of the holding pens attached the Bellebeno cheetah pen. The next morning, after his tail amputation and extensive anesthesia we found that his brother had been caught and Bob had climbed over the fence and was in the pen with all the female cheetahs! We moved him out immediately, however not quick enough as in mid-July 2005 Shiraz gave birth to four very healthy cheetah cubs! This was exactly 90 days after Bob had visited the Bellebeno pen. (The cheetah’s gestation period is between 90-93 days). As this litter was not a planned captive breeding, Bob and CCF were given a reprieve from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (as captive breeding is not allowed in Namibia). So, although very surprised, we are happy that the four new cheetah cubs have come into the world, and we are very proud of the way Shiraz has been raising them. She is an excellent mother!

Shiraz and her cubs, Sheya, Linyanti, Omukumo and Nehale now live in a two and a half acre enclosure next to the Bellebeno camp. And, we have identified Shiraz and her cubs to be a part of some of our ground-breaking research.

We are very happy to announce that we will be releasing Shiraz and her cubs into CCF’s 6,000 acre game camp to be a part of a research project on re-introduction of captive cheetahs back into the wild. This is the second re-introduction project that CCF has been involved with and we do hope that Shiraz will learn how to hunt on her own, however, she will be closely monitored by our research staff and fed if not hunting, and that she will be successful in then teaching her cubs how to hunt and survive in the wild as they grow up. We hope our research will give this cheetah family the rare opportunity to live the way we dream all cheetahs should, wild and free.

In your next update, we will let you know how they all are doing.

…And as for Bob, his tail healed and he was released. And, we have recently captured Bob and his brother on our camera-traps, where they are frequenting one of their territorial pathways, yes, near the Bellebeno female cheetah pens. He has visited his cubs regularly. And, our camera traps have enabled us to determine that his tail has healed beautifully and he is in very good condition.

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