WATCH: Cheetah races Formula E car as the world celebrates International Cheetah Day

2017-12-04 15:03 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cheetah vs Formula E car. (Photo: Twitter)

Cape Town - Formula E racing is accelerating the development of electric powered vehicles and raising awareness of the threat of climate change to cheetahs, as the world celebrates International Cheetah Day on Monday, 4 December.

FIA Formula E, together with Techeetah, are developing environmentally-friendly vehicles that aim to reduce impact on climate change and protect endangered species such as cheetahs. According to Formula E, the cheetah is one of 10 animals most at risk due to climate change.

WWF has listed cheetahs as ‘vulnerable’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of threatened species and says that the animal is endangered "due to a loss of habitat, reduced prey and direct persecution". There are only about 6 700 cheetahs left in the wild.

SEE: #ShockWildLifeTruths: Malawi sees 20-year cheetah rehab milestone

A video shot in Western Cape shows a cheetah racing one of Formula E's cars driven by Jean-Eric Vergne — winner of July’s Montreal E-Prix. The fastest land animal, cheetahs can reach speeds of 120km/h, while the car has a top speed of 225km/h.

Vergne shared the video on Twitter saying "How to prepare for  Season 4: Race the fastest animal on earth! Great to help raise awareness of the threat of climate change to wildlife".

Check it out:

Celebrating cheetahs

Mountain Zebra National Park (MZNP) outside Cradock in the Eastern Cape is celebrating ten years since the reintroduction of cheetahs in 2007 after being absent from the plains of the Karoo for 130 years. 

The Park says that it has enjoyed a number of successes with cheetah since the arrival of two male and two female cheetah a decade ago – most notably being able to boast that it is the only national park to offer a cheetah tracking activity and also that it has been instrumental in contributing towards national initiatives to conserve the species through working with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT).

“It is South African National Parks (SANParks) policy to reintroduce wildlife species which would have occurred in an area before hunting or habitat loss forced them to local extinction in earlier centuries,” says Head of Corporate Communications, Janine Raftopoulos.

To prevent interbreeding, they are regularly relocated to different reserves throughout South Africa – contributing to the EWT’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project. “This project ensures adequate genetic viability and contributes towards national initiatives to conserve the species, and entails the management of over 300 cheetah on more than 50 small fenced reserves throughout South Africa,” says Raftopoulos.

SEE: WATCH: Car helps cheetah kill impala

"Only a few cheetah can be sustained at any given time – dependent on the prey populations in the Park.  Depending on these numbers, animals may have to be moved to or from other reserves.  SANParks manages all predators in terms of social units and by mimicking natural processes," says the Park.

Cheetah tracking

MZNP is renowned for cheetah tracking activity. There are six cheetah in the Park, of which two are collared and are the cheetah guests can encounter should they participate in the cheetah tracking activity.

"The tracking involves guests going out in a game drive vehicle with a trained guide who then tries to pick up the signal on his telemetry device which is emitted from the collars of the animals. Cheetah tracking also includes a game drive where guides showcase the natural flora and fauna in the Park," says MZNP.

Cheetah tracking starts at 07:30 in the summer months and 08:30 in winter.  Bookings are essential, as a maximum of eight people can be accommodated at a time at a rate of R400 per person. "The activity is open to people between the ages of 12 and 65.  If participants are older than 65 years and wish to undertake the activity, they will be required to submit a doctor's certificate stating they are medically fit to undertake a hike in rugged terrain," adds the Park.

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