While the cheetah are en route, in Maputo everything is being checked over one last time as excitement builds for the rangers and everyone else involved in this historic translocation.

Brian Neubert, the Peace Parks operations manager for Maputo Special Reserve, ensures the boma fence is fully operational so the cheetah cannot escape. At 2.4m high, the fence is set with electrics to prevent elephants, hyena and jackals from getting in, and the cats from getting out. As the cheetah have come from reserves with different climates and vegetation, it can take them a few weeks to settle in their new environment, so everything is done to help this process along. To avoid conflict between the animals the boma is separated into two compartments to keep the males and females apart and fresh carcasses are also brought in for the cats’ arrival as they will surely be hungry after their journeys.

The animals need to settle, get used to the climate, and learn the new smells and sounds for a few weeks. During this time, the rangers will bring in game vehicles so the animals get used to their sounds and movements. This will all help when, later on, these same cheetah will be observed by tourists on game drives.

Miguel Goncalves, the park warden of both Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, why it is such a big moment for the park, as these translocations are going to have a huge impact on the communities that live in and around the park. Cheetah do not represent a direct threat to humans, but they are a glamourous attraction for tourists who always love to see big cats so these beautiful cats will help to bring more revenue and jobs into the area.

When the plane lands in Maputo the cheetah are ferried through arrivals and into waiting trucks. They sleep most of the way, while the humans waiting for their arrival are all wide awake!