Recently with the assistance of Endangered Wild Life Trust and Mountain Zebra National Park, South African National Parks, we managed to relocate a beautiful cheetah to our reserve, we sent our ranger Nick to collect him and asked him to tell us all about it!!
“A question I have been asked a few times in my guiding career, and well, the answer really depends on which book you read. Though I can safely say I know of one cheetah which did 124 kilometres an hour on the N1 highway between Cape Town and Johannesburg…..and this is how he did it.
To reintroduce animals into an area can be tricky sometimes, just look at the buffalo incident a few months back. So when we needed to bring in a cheetah, a different approach was required.
Now due to various legislation, the air speed velocity of unladen swallows and the square root of a tree, we couldn’t just pop into the local pet shop and pick one up. No, that would be boring, so off set to the middle of nowhere to get one (a small town called Craddock, in the Karoo. Which used to be an inland sea and now is just a semi arid desert. Ironic).A journey that was fraught with many perils, such as potholes, toll booths and discarded carrots.
There are also various rules regarding the transportation of certain animals. For instance, you can’t just put the cheetah in the back seat with the window open and expect him to sit peacefully while you listen to some DJ on the radio telling you about Rihanna’s latest hair style. Nor are there any special cheetah seats, so we built our own cheetah crate and used this.
Now outside Craddock is a reserved called Mountain Zebra National Park. A park which used to have about 30 odd cheetah, until they basically ate everything and were subsequently reduced in number by relocating then elsewhere (which is how we managed to get one. Though in truth, this is great success story for an animal which is critically endangered).
So exactly at 17 minutes past 4 in the afternoon, the vet which accompanied me on this endeavour, darted the male cheetah, loaded him into the crate, and left him to sleep off the effects of the drugs.
The following morning, at the crack of dawn, we began our return journey armed with the knowledge of most potholes and an extra spatula (because you just never know). Though the trip was close to 14 hours, most of it was uneventful. The entertaining bits where when we had to stop to fill up on diesel, as the cheetah would growl at the petrol attendants, which generally resulted in a good bit of humour.
Now he waits patiently in our game capture boma until we release him, which will be soon (the minimum time is 3 months as laid down by the Endangered Wildlife Trust). Though I am sure he can’t wait to find better accommodation (we gave him a warthog when he arrived, and he’s clearly not a fan of trying out the local delicacies as he didn’t touch it, though impala seems more to his liking. And then two days later it rained, probably something else he’s never seen before, apart from the warthog). I can just imagine the conversation he’s going to have with his travel agent when he gets back…”it took me 14 hours to get there, and then the room you got me was nothing like in the brochure. Then after two days this strange wet stuff came out the sky, and don’t get me started on the food.”
So there you have it. A fussy cheetah that hit 120 kilometres on the highway, you not going to read that in a book.”
By Nick Hindson, Ranger at Amakhosi