At last, the final part of the translocation – releasing the four cheetah from the boma into their new home. It is an emotional moment for everyone involved – for Ashia Cheetah Conservation, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation. Everyone has gathered in Maputo Special Reserve to watch the final step in this historic translocation.
This spectacular moment, when the cheetah finally edge out into the reserve, is especially poignant as, not only does it represent progress towards the greater Peace Parks dream – to create a world where humankind and nature co-exist in harmony – but importantly, these four creatures have the potential to help the cheetah as a species to grow in number and in doing so, to take them off the endangered species list.
The two females are a little reticent at first but are soon drawn out by the tempting carcass that has been carefully placed right outside the boma gate. After a little while, the males follow suit. It has been three days since they were fed, so they are willing to trade caution for a full stomach.
As Maputo Special Reserve welcomes the cheetah into the reserve, CEO Werner Myburgh gives a huge, heartfelt thank you to the dedicated partners and the donor community, without whom none of this would be possible. In his words, “the time for partnership is now” and is one of the most important elements of conservation success.
The last time cheetah were seen in Maputo Special Reserve was in the 1970s, so bringing back these big cats is a significant landmark in the reserve’s development. These translocations are going to have a huge impact on the communities that live in and around the park. It is hoped that these four cheetah will be the seed population that will start to populate Maputo Special Reserve with predators and help to maintain the balance of the ecosystem in the process. They will also draw in the tourists, who always love to see big cats, and this will in turn create jobs and stability for the communities in and around the reserve.