On the 25th of June, Bella and Padme, two young formerly captive cheetahs at CCF, were darted and removed from the 4,000 hectare Bellebeno soft release training camp. These young females were being trained to hunt on their own for eventual re-wilding when an appropriate habitat is found to place them. They had both been in the camp for exactly one month, having been released on the 25th of May. They have independently proven themselves to be good huntresses and it was decided to remove them from the camp. Each cheetah was located utilising the radio-tracking collars. Bella was immobilised first and moved into a holding area; then Padme was subsequently found an immobilised. Both females had their GPS radio-tracking collars removed and had full physical exams performed to assess their health after their time in the release camp. Bella had a small wound over her left shoulder, as previously mentioned in an older blog, likely caused by an encounter with a warthog tusk, but it is healing well. Padme had a small puncture wound behind her left knee joint, possibly caused by a bite or a thorn. Otherwise both females looked great, having stayed very fit and muscular while hunting.
To immobilize the cheetahs, the new DanInject dart gun, donated to CCF in May of this year by Mike and Rebecca Ross of DanInject USA, was utilised. Having a new state-of-the-art piece of immobilising equipment allowed the darting of these two cheetahs to proceed easily, safely and accurately. Everything with the darting procedures and field work-ups went well, thanks to teamwork between the veterinary, husbandry and monitoring teams. Hopefully both Bella and Padme will have the opportunity to be permanently released as free-ranging cheetahs in the near future.
1. Dr. Flacke darting Bella
2. Bella sporting a colorful dart in her rear
3. Padme undergoing her examination and field work-up
Gabriella Flacke, DVM, MVSc
Cheetah Conservation Fund
All photos copyright (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund 2012