Two of the three cheetahs, which broke into Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) outside Port Elizabeth in 2014, have been captured and will be translocated to the Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.
The three males from a neighbouring property were not destined to remain in Addo, as they never occurred in the area naturally. It is South African National Parks’ policy to only introduce wildlife species to parks where they would have occurred before hunting or habitat loss forced them to local extinction.
The three caused great excitement among guests, who had never before 2014 seen cheetah in Addo’s game viewing area. They had been the topic of many discussions since, with some groups planning visits to the Park with the specific hope of capturing them on film.
The relocation operation was conducted by AENP conservation officials, with assistance from the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). The animals will now form part of the EWT’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project (CMP), which entails the management of over 300 cheetahs on more than 50 small fenced reserves in South Africa.
A managed population is a set of geographically isolated populations of the same species that exchange individuals through human-controlled movement. Fenced metapopulations need to be managed to prevent the undesired effects of inbreeding.
The project is a collaborative effort between all cheetah reserves in South Africa, co-ordinated by the EWT and funded by a number of international environmental entities and generous donations. In other words, the principal goals of the CMP are to maintain the genetic and demographic integrity of the metapopulation and to increase the resident range of cheetah in South Africa.
AENP Conservation Manager, John Adendorff, says they foresee the two will form a coalition at Phinda and hopefully pass on their genetics to new generations.