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Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Exciting News!

Tuesday, 7 April, 2009.

Well, the boys did almost next to nothing today. They may have eaten last night but I couldn't see them well enough to determine for certain or not. I also gave Tisha and Shanti a day off of torment but will resume again tomorrow as I attempt to feed them again. But I have got a story for you.

A NamibRand Tuesday Morning Adventure

I awoke this morning with the sense that something different may happen today. You know you sometimes get that? Well, I wasn't let down. Shortly after finding the boys in pretty much the same area I left them yesterday, Marcus, one of the workers from Keerweder pulled up alongside me in his Land Cruiser. In broken English and my limited Afrikaans, he told me he had been trying to reach me on the radio. I checked it and found out that someone had turned the volume all the way down. Must have been Andrea, the German student, last night. Marcus then explained he had seen two Cheetahs, un-collared, running along the fences just after the cattle grate between the Wolwedans road and Toekoms. If I wanted to catch them I'd have to hurry he says.

I hit the road fast, very fast, and gunned it up the road until the two were in sight. If they carried along this fence South like this, they would keep going until they reached farmland. Farmland of the unfriendly sort. I cut in front of them and they immediately stopped. One just lay in the grass and the other bolted back North. I got out and the second one took off North. Perfect. I just had to chase the back into the reserve and all would be lekker. Easy right? Not so much.

The first one was nothing but dust in the distance, She (I'll explain later) made it to a river bed where the fence on the Eastern side was bust and went through, only to re-emerge a few minutes later and cut across to the other side where the fence is not jackal proof, and slipped through easily. One down. The other one would run for a hundred metres and then drop into the grass and hide. I would approach, clap my hands, shout and he would run off again. This went on four or five times until I approached once and he wouldn't get up. I could tell he was tired and male, obviously scared but too tired to be chased further. Distressed I got a little closer to coax him up again, he ignored me and just lay there, head up looking at me and panting. I then saw that he had a silver CCF ear-tag and couldn't be much older than a year and a half. They must be "Mom's" cubs finally out on their own. They looked good but were going the wrong way. I didn't know what to do so I radioed the warden. Waiting for him to arrive, I was watching the Male and looking out for signs of the female that had made it across to the reserve, just in case she came back for him.

Next, the worst possible thing happened. I was passed on the road by one of these HUGE overlanding tourist trucks. He started running South again at such a speed he was out of sight before I could even get back to the truck, let alone get the thing to start and turn it around. I went after him but the roadside turns into a ditch and even with Paul on the back we couldn't find him. Mike, the warden, then called on the radio to ask if it was ok to approach and I turned around again. As soon as I did, I saw him come out of the bushes a couple of hundred metres back and cross over to the other side of the road. I started forward again, chasing him North once more, telling Mike to hold fast in case he got a fright again. I managed to get him down to the fence where his sister had gone through. He laid down again just shy of it and getting a little vexed by now, I jumped out of the car, had a quick chat with him and through the fence he went.

I met up with Mike and the other workers and we went back up the road to make sure that wasn't his sister that had crossed through again. I was certain this wasn't the case as I had taken good note of his tail colour and face. We saw no sign of any other Cheetahs and headed back, happy to have them back in the safety of the reserve.

I hope you enjoyed my story. I'm basically just putting off doing the dishes. Have a great evening and I'll let you know if/when we come across them again. Thanks,


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