Monday, 5th January
Anne-Marie and I make the long drive down to NamibRand Nature Reserve. We take four wild cheetahs with us – a mother and three cubs. A farmer had trapped them near Gobabis, complaining of livestock losses. They are ideal candidates to go to NamibRand in order to add a few females into the population. Who knows? We may even get some breeding with our five boys at some stage.
The five boys have been doing well since the last update. They briefly left the reserve at one stage but returned two days later. They even gave us a Christmas present by hunting an old male Red Hartebeest. They have also hunted an oryx yearling so that takes their kill count up to four in four weeks. We are obviously having to feed them in between kills but we hope that this will get less and less.
Before we could release the wild mother and cubs, we had to dart one of the boys to use his collar on the female. Lindt was chosen as we needed his satellite collar. Tracking the wild cheetahs once released will be very difficult so we will have to rely on data being downloaded from the satellites. Lindt also has a slight limp so we took the opportunity to see whether there was a thorn stuck in his foot.
The darting went well and we removed the collar and placed it onto the mother. Lindt looks to have a slight sprain in his “wrist” so we hope that it sorts itself out, otherwise we may have to get a vet down at a later date. The mother and cubs were placed in a holding pen next to Rosie and Misty for two days.
We took a springbok carcass down to the holding pens and left it in the doorway of the wild mother and cubs’ pen. We fixed the gate open and retreated up the hill. The cheetahs took about 2 hours to leave the pen, before eating the carcass for about an hour and a half. They slowly wandered off and are still on the reserve at the moment. We will be eagerly watching the satellite data each day to see where they settle. It would be amazing if they stay in the area – there is a pretty good chance as there is plenty of game around at the moment.
Latest wild female positions – January 2009
The image at the top of this post reflects the latest positions for the wild female in NamibRand. Blue pin is current location. She is now in the sand dunes to the west of the reserve, almost on the border with Namib-Naukluft National Park
Meantime, the five boys spent the day hanging around by the female’s pen (Rosy and Misty). They only moved 1.5 km all day. They were fed half a springbok in the evening.