Success Stories

Hela’s journey: From orphaned cheetah cub to wild mother

  • by CCF United Kingdom 16 March 2024
Hela’s journey: From orphaned cheetah cub to wild mother

In August 2018, Hela arrived at CCF as part of a trio of orphaned cheetah cubs that included Thor and Loki/Mike, who had lost their mother. They were approximately 4 months old, and the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism (MEFT) brought them to CCF. At 4 months old, they could potentially be released candidates if their wild behaviours and aversion to humans could be maintained.


They were placed into our rehabilitation enclosures where human interactions were minimal. Initially, they were housed with a few other orphaned cheetahs. As they reached adolescence, they were separated into male and female groups, with Hela being paired with Adina, while the males joined three others.



After two years of monitoring and assessment in our rehabilitation area, the time came to release Hela back into the wild. In July 2020, Adina and Hela underwent anaesthesia for a health check, which included weighing, measuring, collecting blood and faecal samples, and fitting satellite collars. They were then transferred to Erindi and placed in a pre-release enclosure before being released a few months later.


Hela excelled in her rehabilitation, becoming a proficient hunter. She regularly hunted prey and required no post-release assistance. In 2022, we discovered that Hela was pregnant, and she subsequently gave birth to four cubs at our centre in Namibia. Since their birth, our team in Namibia has been closely monitoring and caring for them.


After a few months, we reintroduced Hela and her cubs to the wild at the Erindi Private Game Reserve. Now, two years later, we have decided to fit tracking collars to Hela’s cubs to monitor them, ensure their safety and provide necessary care. Following baiting with a zebra leg, all the young cheetahs were safely measured, weighed, and fitted with collars – with staff discovering that all three cats weighed between 32 and 35 kilograms!



In the wild, cheetah cubs typically spend approximately 18 months with their mothers, during which they learn critical life skills, most notably hunting. When adolescent cheetahs finally leave their mothers, siblings often stick together for a few extra months to refine their hunting skills.


Now, our team will continue monitoring Hela and her cubs, enabling her to demonstrate the life skills she learned during her transition back into the wild and pass them on to the next generation.


You can help us to keep taking care of Hela and her cubs by making a donation today, help CCF UK now!

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