It is an early start, with a host of experts leaving Maputo via Kruger National Park for the flight to Phinda, a private game reserve in Kwazulu-Natal which is managed by the Beyond group. The team is to capture two male cheetah, kindly donated by Ashia, in order to help start populate Maputo Special Reserve with predators. As Brian Neubert from Peace Parks explains, the last cheetah seen in Maputo Special Reserve were in the 1970s, so bringing back these big cats will be a landmark in the reserve’s development.

Once on the ground, the team prepares the crates that will house the captured cats. Unlike yesterday’s translocation, this one does not require a helicopter and an expert to dart the cats from the air. Instead, these curious cats are tempted out of hiding in a boma by a fresh impala carcass. As the cheetah is a daylight hunter it soon finds the bait. It is securely attached to the back of the truck to prevent it being dragged away into the forest as cheetah eat their kill quickly to prevent opportunistic animals like hyena from getting in the way. But the cheetah are unaware that expert veterinarians are also waiting to dart the two males, so they are soon deeply asleep. Masks are put over their eyes, their temperatures measured and great care taken to stabilise the animals before loading them in the transport crates.

As Barry Mtiumbu explains, this is the perfect opportunity for the animals to be checked over, as it is imperative that no diseased animals are taken into Maputo. In fact, the process of selecting the correct animals is a lengthy one. This was carried out by the Endangered Wildlife Trust who researched the landscape and determined exactly which animals needed to be brought in to help balance the ecosystem of Maputo Special Reserve while also ensuring healthy populations of unrelated cheetah remain in South Africa. These two particular males were chosen from a coalition, a group of male cheetah who hunt and hang around together. Together, these two ‘brothers’ will start a new life in Maputo Special Reserve.