CLICK HERE to see our photo album of the release on CCF's official Facebook page.
After loading up Chanel, Nestle, Hershey and Toblerone at CCF on January 6, we began our journey to the Erindi private game reserve in the southern region of Namibia. We had previously released this group of four female cheetahs on the Bellebenno property here on CCF as part of our re-introduction research, and after nearly four months on their own, we recaptured them and began preparations for the move to a bigger and better home.
We started packing up the cats around 2pm, and just before 6pm we put the group into a boma (a 5 hectare holding pen) at Erindi. We returned in the morning to check on them, and around noon we released the cats onto the 70,000-hectare reserve. Kate, Matt and James put meat in the back of a truck and called the cats out, and though they were weary of their surroundings, all four of them made their way out of the pen and followed the CCF crew out into the bush.
While Chanel finished her meal, Toblerone, Hersey and Nestle went off on their own, and for about half an hour all four cheetahs chirped and called out at each other. The Chocolates eventually crossed one of the park's many dirt paths to find Chanel, and just a few minutes later all four of the cats made their way back over the same path and went into the park. Chanel gave us a long look as she crossed the road, and it was a very special way to end a very special day for all of us here at CCF and the staff at Erindi.
CCF's Tracker James is staying behind to help the cats adjust to their new home, and he will be working with the rangers at Erindi to make sure the transition goes smoothly for everyone. As of Saturday January 8, the cats have moved around their release area and they attempted to hunt a duiker, and they have also been stalking some oryx on the reserve.
Stay tune for a great video we are preparing!
Images courtesy of CCF's volunteer Elisabeth Brentano