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Sunday, 14 September 2008

Newborn cubs at CCF and news on the five released cheetahs.

Our recent days have been hectic. We have been feeding newborn cheetah cubs around the clock. A farmer shot a very pregnant female cheetah, due to his dislike for cheetahs, and found the stomach moving. He opened her up and found four cubs. Unfortunately, one did not make it; however the other three are doing great so far.

An entire year of planning came to fruition in July when we released five of CCF's cheetahs into the NamibRand Nature Reserve. The five male cheetahs, Ra, Kia, Mushara, Lindt and Cadbury, were in a holding pen for a week, after spending four years at Amani Lodge's 50-hectare camp. We selected this group for the historic release, because they were somewhat used to people and they had shown an ability to hunt game that found its way into their camp.

Seeing them take their first steps to freedom was amazing. Their new home consists of open plains full of springbok and other antelope, with high mountains bordering the plains. Upon release from an enclosure where they spent a week to acclimatize themselves to the area, all five cats moved swiftly up to the top of the closest hill and surveyed their new home. From there they moved southeast to spend their first few nights in the foothills of the mountains. We have been monitoring their movements by radio telemetry and satellite tracking technology, as well as by vehicle and on foot. We will continue feeding them until they begin to hunt on their own. After the second day, they came for food, and have each consecutive day, and chased their first springbok after their third day of freedom. They seem at home in the mountains but daily are making sorties into the plains, and we hope they will hunt soon! The release will be a part of a UK Channel 5 TV programme that will air in October.

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