In 2017, the Endangered Wildlife Trust reported that there was an estimated 1 700 cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) left in South Africa. A year later, the good news is that, thanks to the many conservation efforts of various foundations, their numbers are increasing!
On Madikwe Game Reserve, we currently have seven cheetahs. Four of these are males that have been on the reserve for a couple of years now and are well established in their territories.
In December 2017, the reserve released three female cheetahs that came from the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre. The centre performs a key role in the preservation and conservation of cheetahs – they have bred over eight hundred cubs, and received international recognition for bringing the cheetah back from the brink of extinction.
The three females placed at Madikwe currently each have a tracking device, located around their neck, which works in a similar way to a vehicle’s GPS system. They are monitored by a conservation group who keep an eye on their movements and ranging patterns to establish if they are adapting to their new environment. These tracking devices are not used for game-viewing purposes.
Thus far, all three females have been found in the north-eastern parts of the reserve, with one female roaming on her own and the other two travelling together. They seem to have established preferred areas. But as time passes, they will start to explore other parts – hopefully then sharing home ranges with the males and mating. After a short gestation of about three months, cheetahs usually raise a litter of three to five cubs.
Many thanks must be extended to the conservation foundations, including the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre. They are making real and tangible efforts to educate, raise public awareness, and preserve endangered species, like the beautiful cheetah.
Fast cheetah facts:
- The fastest land mammal, capable of reaching a speed of 100km/h (62mph)
- This speed can only be kept up over a sprint of about 500m (547yd)
- Male cheetahs typically form social pairs called coalitions and are territorial
- Female cheetahs are less territorial and social, often living solitary lives
Words by: Wayne Lubbe
Pictures by: Charlotte Arthun