In 2013 Cape Cheetah released two of their rehabilitated cheetahs into the main part of the Cape Town game reserve where the centre is situated. One female and one male were released in the hopes that they will mate. The cheetahs roam free and hunt for themselves, but the handlers still track them two to three times a day in order to monitor their progress.
Join Cape Cheetah for a Tracking Session
Guests to the cheetah centre are now invited to join the handlers during their cheetah tracking sessions. Despite being equipped with a tracker, the nature of the sessions is still unpredictable and can take up to two hours. During the sessions, the handlers often stumble upon kills that the cheetahs have made during their hunts throughout the Cape Town game reserve. These vary from springboks and lechwes to duikers and even ostriches.
The cheetah population has declined from 100 000 at the turn of the previous century to less than 10 000 in the wild today. Releasing the cheetahs into the wild forms a very important part of the work at Cape Cheetah. But in order to release them, they must first be rehabilitated. Cheetahs from across South Africa, Namibia and Botswana have been brought to the centre, many of them rescued from atrocious conditions. Bringing them together from different areas also helps increase genetic diversity, which is important as inbreeding has caused cheetah genes to weaken.
At the centre cheetahs are introduced into an environment that resembles their natural habitat as closely as possible. They are taken on runs every day so that they get plenty of exercise, but most importantly: to hone their hunting skills. In addition, the runs form an important part of the breeding program. Once the team is confident that the cheetahs will be able to cope and fend for themselves in the Cape Town game reserve, they are released.
To date, two cheetahs have been released and the centre hopes to release more in future. The cheetahs are faring very well in the Cape Town game reserve. The female is a particularly strong hunter, although in all her eagerness she was recently wounded by an antelope. Luckily she has recovered well. The team had to feed her for a while, but now that she has regained her strength she is a happy hunter once again.
The male is also a keen hunter and his kills are spotted here and there across the Cape Town game reserve. The team set up their bush camera recently and spotted the male cheetah returning to his kill at night. Peculiar behaviour for this daytime cat, but since there are no predators for him on the reserve, he feels safe going for a midnight snack. But he could not have been too impressed at the jackal that took a sneaky bite or two from his kills, which the bush camera also captured,
Needless to say the two cheetahs have kept the handlers busy, but it is worth it as can be seen in the enjoyment of their new-found freedom. Join the team for a tracking session and relish in the vast expanse of the Karoo with free-roaming cheetahs.