You might recall Shiraz that gave birth to four cubs last year. She was part of a soft-release project and released into Bellebeno Game Camp in February 2006 with her cubs. After four months she moved out of Bellebeno onto our Big Field (the Little Serengeti) and eventually ventured onto our neighbour’s land. Shortly after that, Shiraz was re-released with her four cubs at Erindi Ranch, a 64.000ha-fenced farm between Okahandja and Omaruru. She was being tracked by the staff at Erindi and visited regularly by CCF staff to monitor her well being. Shiraz became a very successful hunter. Unfortunately, we got a call last week from the farm manager. He found Shiraz dead. We don’t know what happened as her body was too deteriorated to perform a necropsy.
Shiraz’s cubs are now 16-months old. Cheetah cubs stay with their mother 18 to 22 months, so these cubs are actually a bit too young to be out by themselves. However, since Shiraz and her cubs practically learned to hunt together, we believe the cubs will be able to take care of themselves. They were actually found feeding on an impala the same day Shiraz was found dead. They have shown to be successful hunters and will remain at Erindi Ranch. CCF will radio collar them for regular tracking to ensure that they are doing well.
Also, on the 3rd of November 2006, one of our Bellebeno residents, Daisy, did not show up at feeding time. Cheetahs’ skipping meals from time to time is a normal occurrence, as occasionally they hunt small animals on their own. However, her sister Rosy showed up every time, and after a couple days the staff decided to search for her. Eight people walked the 64-ha enclosure, and found her body in the bush a few meters from the road. She was brought back to CCF, where staff went through the remains for any sign of injury or cause of death. None was identified; however, we are thinking that it might have been a snake bite, as it was so sudden. Her bones will be preserved for our collection.
These sad losses are a good reminder of our mission to save the wild cheetah. Cheetahs are not meant to be in captivity, and even though CCF’s resident cheetahs receive the best possible care thanks to all our staff, volunteers and cheetah sponsors like you, we would be happier knowing that all cheetahs in the world are able to live free and learn how to survive on their own.