CCF staff responded to a call from a farmer who had accidentally caught a cheetah cub in a trap. The trap had been set out for Jackal, however a cheetah female and her single cub had followed the same game trail. This is the unfortunate result of indiscriminate trapping. Upon arrival, the team first treated the 3 month old cub for dehydration and shock, having gone through quite an ordeal.
Talking to the farmer was a great opportunity to find out more about cheetah conflict in the area and the team found out that there was no cheetah conflict with their small-stock, only Jackal, which is common when farmers don’t use LGDs as a mitigation tool. In most situations farmers just don’t have a tolerance for predators and will ask for the animal to be removed, in this case we were able to spend some time talking to them about the importance of territorial carnivores that do not predate on live-stock to remain in their territories as they keep out dispersing carnivores that may cause a problem.
The team also discussed apex predators playing a role in maintaining healthy populations of smaller carnivores, such as Jackal, and that removing the animal would result in a boom of smaller carnivores. CCF staff were able to convince the farmer to release the cub to be reunited with its mother. This is the ideal situation and a great win for cheetah. Fortunately the cub had only been caught earlier that day, and a cheetah mother’s natural instinct is to remain within very close proximity where its cub had been and would have been searching for him.
The area was first searched for indication that the mother was still around and there were clear indications from spoor that the mother was coming back to the spot where the cub had been caught, pacing up and down trails looking for it. The cubs wounds were treated for infection and he was released at the site. CCF staff remained at the site and shortly after the cub had been released he was heard “chirping”. This unique chirping is communication between cheetah cubs and their mothers to make its whereabouts known. It’s common for cheetah mothers to stash their cubs when it goes hunting and reunite with them by calling out to them.
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