This month started off by welcoming two new cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) sisters to the uMkhuze Section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park! They underwent a long journey from the Limpopo Province to their new home in Zululand, northern KwaZulu-Natal Province. The relocated cheetah will supplement the existing population, as well as contribute to the genetic diversity within the population as part of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s cheetah population management plan for the reserve.
Close collaboration between multiple parties is required to ensure the success of an operation such as this. The two 20-month old female cheetah were donated by Welgevonden Game Reserve, where there is a thriving cheetah population.
Each of the cheetah sisters were fitted with a new Wildlife ACT VHF collar, which also allows for GPS fixes every 2 hours. African Wildlife Vets provided transport and veterinary support, and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, as coordinators of the cheetah metapopulation, assisted with a vehicle, cheetah transportation crates and the necessary permits.
The Wildlife ACT Monitoring Team will assist Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in keeping a close eye on these new arrivals while they spend some time in the uMkhuze predator boma to break their homing instinct. The new tracking collars will enable the intensive monitoring needed once they can roam throughout the entire reserve and settle into their new surroundings.
Text by Wildlife ACT Monitor Anel Olivier
Photos by Emergency Response Manager PJ Roberts