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Addo’s Runaway Cheetahs

Addo’s Runaway Cheetahs

The three male cheetahs that broke into Addo Elephant National Park in September 2014 are still on the run, giving new impetus to the term ‘playing cat and mouse’.

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According to photos sent to SANParks Times they show no signs of slowing down, after already have logged a number of adventures in their young lives.

They were part of a litter of four born from a mother who was re-wilded on a reserve in Limpopo. She was later moved to Hopewell, a private game reserve in the Eastern Cape, as part of the EWT’s cheetah metapopulation project, says project coordinator, Vincent van der Merwe. Here, she flourished, and gave birth to a litter of three males and a female, the latter which was removed by the EWT and placed in Limpopo.

A tumultuous time lay ahead for the three male cubs, which later fled Hopewell after they started fighting with their father. “They bolted across the N2 and headed straight for Addo,” says van der Merwe. Hopewell staff tried to dart them before they entered the park but only hit one. He was put into the boma at Addo’s main section. “This was done to try and entice the other males closer for capture but it did not go to plan,” says Addo Elephant National Park conservation manager, John Adendorff.

Instead, they moved into the Colchester section, many miles away from the boma. A couple of days later the captured male literally jumped over the boma fence in full view of park rangers, and moved into a citrus farming area north of the park. Not seen for months, he was presumed dead.

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The other two did well in Colchester and managed to avoid the resident lions, a particularly remarkable feat seeing as they had never seen a lion before. Four months later, there was another twist in the tale. “All three were spotted together in the Colchester section,” says van der Merwe.

Though extremely elusive, they are becoming a sought after sighting for tourists. Plus, they are still surviving the lions.

Apparently staying true their nature, the three cheetah have proven to be “totally unpredictable”, covering every inch of the Addo main camp and main Colchester sections, says Adendorff. For example, while the photographs were taken in the north of the park, they were in the far south a couple of hours later; easily covering a distance of 20 kilometres. This makes them extremely difficult to capture but Adendorff is quick to point out that they still have every intention of doing so. They will then be moved to the Darlington section of the park, which is historically the area in which cheetah would have occurred.

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Photographs taken by Carolynn Reynolds Botha

Content courtesy of SANParks Times: www.sanparkstimes.co.za

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