Two male cheetahs rescued from a cattle ranch in Limpopo Province by the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust were recently released into Nkomazi Game Reserve in Badplaas, Mpumalanga; the latest Game Reserve launched by Dubai World Africa.
When farmers are not tolerant to the presence of cheetah, the De Wildt Wild Cheetah Project endeavour to capture these wild cats and relocate them to more suitable protected areas. This successful relocation programme has rescued many cheetahs from farmlands in South Africa, by relocating them to protected regions where they are treasured as a valuable eco-tourism asset.
Now under the watchful eye and careful supervision of Nkomazi Wildlife Monitor, Stefan Swanepoel, these two male cheetahs are exploring their new surrounds and adapting well to their new environment.
“Conservation at Nkomazi Game Reserve is about the development and rehabilitation of the environment to create a sustainable ecosystem through the implementation of fundamental conservation and wildlife principles. The release of these two male cheetahs is the initial introduction of predators into Nkomazi. This is the first systematic step to the full reintroduction of the once plentiful mega-fauna, including elephant, buffalo and lion to the Komati River Valley.
Predators such as cheetahs, lions once roamed freely, but were systematically eradicated by pastoralists, commencing with formal farming activities in the Badplaas region in 1860. Vivid depictions of these species in the many San rock art sites in the area give us an indication of what must have been a wildlife paradise, prior to the incursion of domestic livestock. The reintroduction of these species is not only important for the reserve in terms of financial sustainability, but is some of the key components of a balanced functional eco-system, that once impressed early San artists, hunters, prospectors and travelers. As the project reaches fruition, the success of each species will be monitored and analyzed very carefully in order to ensure the integrity of vital ecological systems, to ensure that Nkomazi plays a pivotal role in nature conservation and ecotourism well into the future, adds Fred Stow, General Manager of Nkomazi Game Reserve.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org