"We were lucky to track her using the telemetry"
Since two months, Iketle, the cheetah female sponsored by Rhulani, lives in freedom. We eagerly hope that the endangered animal settles in well and will get pregnant later this year. In the meantime, Iketle provides surprising headlines. This week, we found her outside the reserve!
We already know from her first days in the reserve, that Iketle is doing well. She successfully started to hunt and killed some small scrub hare, her favorite meal. This is a modest beginning, but an important sign that Iketle can get food on her own.
But there are other headlines. After the first two weeks Declan Hofmeyr, Operations Manager of Madikwe, reported: "Your girl has been doing well. She has spent most of her time across the river, is hunting successfully. She has thus killed a duiker and was seen trying to hunt impala but was unsuccessful."
Shortly thereafter Iketle was involved in a fight with a female leopard and then disappeared for the day. We feared the worst but received a message late last night that she had been found and seemed to have taken it in her stride.
Iketle's preferrred area is in the east of the Marico River. On the plus side, aside from leopards, the threat from other predators is much lower in that area of the park.
But this week Iketle kept us on our toes again. There was a rumor that Iketle had somehow found a way out of the Madikwe Reserve. Maybe a hole in the fence, or she just walked out the gate, we don’t know. There are no big cats outside the reserve, but the survival there would be impossible. Iketle would find little food, and the greatest danger would be the farmers.
"Yes, the story is true and it was Iketle" says Hofmeyr, and he supplements with relief: "We were lucky to track her using the telemetry. She was caught and returned to Madikwe on Wednesday afternoon. "
Hofmeyr released Iketle back in the middle of the park. She went mobile in a easterly direction from there and was in good condition according to the vet involved.
So, we are back to normal, and waiting for new stories.
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