A new cheetah project has started in Madikwe
We have reported a lot this year about Madikwe’s cheetah project. We have talked about successes, hopes, joys, but also many setbacks. What is the situation now? And in particular: what are the prospects to introduce cheetah females into the reserve next year and have the possibility of reproduction?
Three years ago, the introduction of male cheetah into Madikwe has been very successful. Of the six males originally introduced in October 2012, five are still alive. They are successfully hunting and avoiding other predators. Unfortunately it seems like the four male coalition will be problematic for successfully establishing female cheetah in the reserve. Evidence has shown, that the four males killed the female one month after her release from the boma at the first meeting (for more details click here).
It was a shock; Madikwe had waited so long to get genetically unrelated female cheetah, which are a very scarce commodity. There are numerous reserves on waiting lists for female cheetah.
With the support from Vincent van der Merwe, the manager of the Cheetah Project Meta population of South Africa, a new project is about to start. The good news first: Two female cheetahs were found and be available from February 2016. The bad news is that they are from Sanbona in the Eastern Cape, and therefore they are directly related to all five males currently established in Madikwe. To ensure best chances for survival as well as introduction and population growth for Madikwe, in a first step the four male coalition must be swopped with male cheetahs from other reserves.
Along with this strategy, the first two new male cheetahs have arrived in Madikwe a few days ago. They are Big 5 game reserve born and will be in a boma for a few weeks still. They are fairly well habituated but need some work. By the end of year the exchange of all four male cheetahs will be completed. This ensures that all males are genetically unrelated to the females, that will be Introduced early 2016.
Biodiversity Conservation Management Division from North West Parks Board informs: “Our current cheetah management objective is to contribute to cheetah conservation in South Africa by providing an area conducive to the successful breeding of competition aware, strong, wild, free roaming and independent cats. All things being equal by March 2016 we should then have gone from a male only population to a sound population with the potential to breed and contribute to cheetah conservation.”
Rhulani Safari Lodge is supporting this new, ambitious project. Further information will follow soon.
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