Following the release of free-roaming cheetahs at Inverdoorn Game Reserve is the recent birth of four cubs at the cheetah centre’s breeding camp. For more than a decade the Western Cape Cheetah Conservation, based at the reserve, has been rescuing and rehabilitating cheetahs. Captive breeding amongst these big cats is notoriously difficult, but the Cape Cheetah team has preserved despite the ongoing challenge. They conduct daily runs with the cheetahs, which form part of their rehabilitation and facilitate the breeding process – particularly for the females. The hard work has been rewarded with a litter of cubs, giving renewed hope to this threatened species.
The organisation’s goals include raising awareness about the world’s fastest living land mammal and rehabilitating them for release into the wild. In November 2013, two of the cheetahs were successfully released into the main part of the reserve. Habitat loss and inbreeding have led to a decreased population trend in cheetahs, as well as a battle with genetic deficiencies. The successful mating pair in the breeding camp are not related and come from different areas of South Africa, signaling the introduction of new, strong genes into the cheetah gene pool.
The cheetahs in the breeding programme are monitored by staff, but kept in a natural environment with as little human interference as possible. The team is giving the mother and her litter the space they need to minimise stress, but are keeping them under strict observation as newborns, in captivity and in the wild, are highly prone to infant mortality. With less than 10 000 cheetahs left in the wild today, the Western Cape Cheetah Conservation has taken another encouraging and much-needed step in securing the future of the cheetah.
Originally published on Inverdoorn Game Reserve