If you have been following the story, Jacomina is a female cheetah that came to CCF as a young orphan, one of CCF’s three “Wild Girls,” along with Emma and Minja. All three were released back into the wild onto CCF land in December of 2013, but because Jacomina was doing so well on her own with multiple confirmed kills, the decision was made to relocate her to Erindi Game Reserve. What we didn’t know at the time was that Jacomina had mated with a wild cheetah while still on CCF land and was about to give birth!
When Jacomina arrived at Erindi, she was introduced into a holding area to give her time to adjust to her new home. It was there that her two female cubs, Shandy and Savanna, were born. All three remained in the holding area for four months to give the cubs time to grow and have their health checked regularly. When it came time to release the family into a larger area, CCF staff members put a satellite-tracking collar on Jacomina.
We’ve been following the family ever since and are pleased to report that Shandy and Savanna (both named after popular Namibian adult beverages) are in excellent health. They both have started to interrupt Jacomina’s kills and are making small kills on their own. Recently, we placed collars on both cubs, now approximately 13 to 14 months of age, so we can continue to track them as they wander off from their mother in another four to five months, at about 18 months of age.
CCF Canada Board of Trustees Chair and President Carolyn Farquhar and CCF UK Co-Chair Dr. Jane Galton recently traveled to Namibia to visit and had the chance to observe Jacomina’s cubs receiving their new collars and health check-ups at Erindi. This is what Jane had to say about the experience:
“I had only arrived at CCF the day before, so I felt extremely privileged to be a part of this endeavor. It was incredibly exciting to see wild cheetahs up close but the hour went by in a blur because we had so many different measurements to take. After the cubs were released from their boxes, they chirped and searched for their mother, who was not far away eating. It was so heartwarming to see them all reunited, I still cannot quite believe it all happened.”
Now that biological samples have been collected from Shandy and Savanna, it is possible to determine which wild male cheetah in the CCF landscape may be their father, if we can find scat from this individual animal. We will compare the DNA from their blood with samples of DNA found in scat collected from the area where Jacomina was living when she mated. We also plan to look at camera trap photos from that area, which might help us identify the father. More to come…