IN PICS | Four cheetahs from SA game parks released in Mozambique
Endangered species in area for the first time in 60 years thanks to conservation programme
Thanks to generous offerings and the involvement of private game reserves and Ashia Cheetah Conservation in SA, four of the endangered cats will soon roam the wildlife-rich plains of Maputo Special Reserve in southern Mozambique for the first time in more than 60 years.
The animals have been transported safely to holding bomas within the reserve. They are undergoing an acclimatisation period before being released into the reserve in a three-week process that will see the successful reintroduction of the world’s fastest land mammal in Mozambique.
They will be carefully monitored daily by the reserve management, in partnership with the University of Eduardo Mondlane and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT).
The reserve is managed through a partnership agreement signed between Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation in 2018 and is supported by Ashia Cheetah Conservation, the EWT and the Mozambique Wildlife Alliance as veterinary partner.
Two male cheetahs were flown in from the andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, while an adult female and her sub-adult female cub were flown from the Waterval Private Game Reserve near Kimberley in the Northern Cape.
The cheetahs were donated by Ashia, which also covered the costs of the translocation, including transportation, vaccination and the fitting of tracking collars to monitor the animals in their new environment.
The reintroduction of the cats in Maputo Special Reserve is part of an ambitious goal to establish a healthy metapopulation (a group of spatially separated populations of the same species which interact at some level) that contributes to the conservation of the cats. Cheetahs have been eliminated from 90% of their range in Africa, with an estimated population of only 6,600 individuals remaining.
Marna Smit, director for Ashia Cheetah Conservation, said the rewilding programme was a vital component of the restoration and development of the reserve.
Funding from the World Bank MozBio Programme has seen almost 5,000 animals, including, buffalo, giraffe, impala, kudu, nyala, waterbuck, warthog, oribi, eland, blue wildebeest and zebra, translocated onto the reserve in the past decade.
Total animal numbers are estimated at between 15,000 and 17,000 today.
This latest operation falls under the EWT’s Cheetah Range Expansion Project which has doubled the cheetah metapopulation from 217 animals in 48 protected areas to 478 in 67 protected areas across SA, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi.