"She is hunting successfully and has avoided lions"
The cheetah female "Iketle", sponsored by Rhulani, is living in freedom for three weeks in the Madikwe Game Reserve. How is she doing? We speak with Declan Hofmeyr, Operations Manager of the reserve.
Three weeks ago our Iketle was released. How is she doing?
Hofmeyr: Your girl has been doing very well. She has spent most of her time across the river though on the Morukurru side.
How can you measure whether Iketle has well settled in Madikwe?
Hofmeyr: She is hunting successfully and has avoided lions, which is the important thing.
Have you been monitoring Iketle?
Hofmeyr: Vincent van der Merwe from the Endangered Wildlife Trust followed her for two weeks.
What is Iketle's favorite food?
Hofmeyr: Her most common animal to hunt was scrub hares. Vincent took some amazing pictures showing one of her first kills. She has also killed a duiker and was seen trying to hunt impala but was unsuccessful..
How important is the cheetah project for Madikwe?
Hofmeyr: It is very important. Ten years ago we defined the goal to build up a stable cheetah population here.
Why is this so difficult?
Hofmeyr: Cheetahs are very weak and endangered animals. There is not much knowledge about this situation. They are even more endangered than rhinos.
Hofmeyr: The poaching and the illegal trade of rhino horn interest people much more. The reasons for the extinction of cheetahs are far less appealing for a headline.
What are those reasons?
Hofmeyr: Loss of habitat and loss of prey. We had to first create a habitat, and reduce other big cats stocks to ensure the prey for our cheetahs.
Will we soon see young cheetah cubs in Madikwe?
Hofmeyr: If that happens, then I've done my job. Fingers crossed!
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