A young, stunning female cheetah has arrived at Madikwe
The next step in the cheetah project is concluded. A young cheetah has successfully arrived at Madikwe and is now getting habituated to the new environment in a protective boma. At Rhulani Safari Lodge, sponsor of the "cheetah female project", we are very excited about this news!
It is just an ordinary afternoon in the beautiful Madikwe Game Reserve. Many lodges are out in the bush with their guests, looking for wild animals. So is Rhulani’s ranger Sean, steering our landcruiser. The voice on the radio from Declan Hofmeyr, Operations Manager in the reserve, reaches all vehicles. It is a huge surprise: "The cheetah female has arrived and is now in the boma. Go and see her, if you are interested, and enjoy".
"We were very close to that boma, and so we drove there," says Sean. It was the exact same boma where two female cheetahs were habituated a year ago for their later step to freedom. Unfortunately, the cats did not make it. One died still in the boma right after collaring, the other a little later after the release, as she got killed by the four male coalition on their first encounter.
"We all knew that this female should arrive these days," says Rhulani's manager Gerda Kubirske. But, like last time, the operation was kept secret. A long transport on the road in a cage and release in a new environment put a lot of stress on the fearful cheetah, so the arrival should therefore be carried out in absolute silence.
Sean succeeded to shoot already a first photo of the beauty. "She is still relatively young, perhaps a little over one year old," he says. "And she is very relaxed towards the vehicles, not shy at all." This is a good indicator that Madikwe visitors will be able to find and quietly observe this cat once she gets released. All previous female cheetahs which were acquired by the park had all been very skittish.
Gerda is also very excited: “She is a stunner. Very small built and young, but absolutely gorgeous!”
The Madikew Conservation Department can be once again optimistic. Following an extensive project of exchange of male cheetahs, the foundation is now established that this young female will survive, and hopefully can give birth. It would be for the first time in the more than 20 year history of Madikwe.
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