Cheetahs to be re-introduced to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park

2017-11-09 11:36 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - One of oldest proclaimed reserves in Africa, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park will soon be home to new cheetahs, with hopefully ten cats to be welcomed later in the year.

Galen Schultz from Wildlife Act confirmed with Traveller24 that over the next few months Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is hoping to bring at least ten cheetahs into the park.

The park is characterised by wide open spaces and is a natural treasure that is home to fascinating fauna and flora. Species include the “Big Five” as well as blue wildebeest and over 300 bird species have been recorded in the park.

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The first four new cheetahs, according to the park, arrived in from Shamwari Game Reserve and Mountain Zebra National Park about a month ago and have been held in capture bomas for researchers to obtain readings of their movements, and would be set free once they settle down in their new environment.

The park says, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has been trying to secure new cheetahs for the past three years and the four latest re-introduction was made possible with financial assistance from the Wildlife Act wildlife monitoring group and by local artist and conservationist Andrew Bone.

Musa Mntambo from KZN Wildlife says they are working with the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Vincent van der Merwe to source additional cheetah from within the South African meta population.

"He interacts with all cheetah reserves across the country to assist in moving cheetah between the reserves. Once these additional 10 cheetah are in the park, the population will be approximately 13 individuals and we will not look to introduce more cheetah immediately," says Mntambo, adding that they will first determine the success of this introduction before deciding how to proceed.

According to Cheetah Outreach, Africa’s cheetah population has seen a decrease and there are just 7100 cheetahs left in the wild.

Southern Africa has about 4190 cheetahs with the largest sub-population of 3940 cheetahs in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, SW Zambia and SW Mozambique. There are about 1326 cheetahs in South Africa and Zimbabwe has only about 165 cheetahs left.

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Added to this, the park says before the re-introduction there were only three cheetahs left in the park‚ all of them closely related through blood, as the majority started to disappear in the 1920s.

However, an attempt was made to re-establish a stronghold for the increasingly threatened cats when 64 cheetahs were brought in from Namibia between 1965 and 1978.

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