Free State's first wild cheetah in 100 years

2013-06-27 11:28
Bloemfontein - After over a century's absence, wild cheetah have been reintroduced into the Free State as part of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's (EWT) Carnivore Conservation Programme.

Tourism Update reports that the programme, started in 2011, aims to facilitate a co-ordinated management approach to cheetah reintroductions on small reserves to increase numbers in SA.

According to EWT, two male Cheetah were released at Laohu Valley Reserve in the Free State. They were were born in July 2010 on Amakhala Game Reserve and have been fending for themselves on the 5 700ha reserve since birth. The reintroduction follows the restoration of Laohu Valley, which was financed by Conservation Finance International.

"This reintroduction marks an extremely important moment in our battle to save the Cheetah from  extinction. The reintroduction is the culmination of years of work and the building of great relationships and we are extremely excited to be returning this beautiful, fleet-footed African carnivore to the Free State," said Kelly Marnewick, Manager of the EWT's Carnivore Conservation 

The Free State is the only province in South Africa that has not had wild Cheetah for over 100 years. These graceful cats are classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and it is estimated that there are fewer than 1 000 in SA, making them the second most threatened carnivore.

The rapidly increasing human population is putting severe pressure on protected areas and natural resources. Snares set for bushmeat often end up killing Cheetah and this has been identified as a significant threat throughout their range in Africa. Furthermore, persecution by farmers threatens the survival of Cheetahs outside protected areas.

Read more on:    good news  |  animals  |  travel south africa

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