Cheetah translocations

Our team at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve works tirelessly in the shared vision of returning the land to its natural state. We have seen the return of cheetah to the Great Fish River Valley for the first time since 1888 while assisting with the re-establishment of populations of cheetah to many game reserves in South Africa from Kwandwe’s founding stock.

The cheetah metapopulation in South Africa is an excellent example of how game reserves can work together to maintain the genetic diversity of species and create a thriving national population. We work with the Endangered Wildlife Trust which facilitates these translocations.

When President Ramaphosa announced the nationwide lockdown on 22 March, the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Conservation Project Coordinator, Vincent van der Merwe, realised he had little time left to coordinate the essential relocation of three cheetahs. It would have to be done in 58 hours before lockdown.

Cheetah populations are doing well on our reserve as well as on Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg, however, both reserves had one dominant male coalition siring most litters for almost five years now. There was, therefore, an urgent requirement for unrelated genetics. So, Vincent sprang into action to enable us to swap our dominant male coalition for an exceptionally large single male from Welgevonden.

Hopefully, this swap will bring unrelated genetics to both reserves, preventing inbreeding and ensuring the genetic health of both populations for years to come.

Our continued thanks to Endangered Wildlife Trust for ensuring that this operation was a success.