Protecting endangered species in our World Heritage Site
The rich terrain of the uMkhuze section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is renowned as home to not only 400+ bird species and the ‘Big Five’ but also endangered species such as wild dog and cheetah. With the increasing pressure of human population and development all over Africa, the habitat available to such species within relatively small protected areas in is limited, necessitating intensive management by conservation staff.
Cheetah numbers are dynamic in uMkhuze, with a current population of nine animals, of which four are female. It is hoped that these females will soon boost the population. Relocations in and out of the Park are necessary to introduce new genetic strains and minimise inbreeding, and the recent acquisition of two young male siblings has strengthened the gene pool.
Veterinarians Dr Rowan Leeming and Dr Joel Alves fit satellite collars to two recently introduced young cheetah males before release from the bomas into uMkhuze. Photos: Kate Church, African Wildlife Vets.
All of the adult cheetah are collared to enable daily monitoring of their movements – essential to ensure the survival and success of critical populations of animals such as these. Collars bought by the iSimangaliso Rare and Endangered Species Fund – which raises money through its Eco-Series events and other donations – were recently fitted to the brothers, with veterinary costs assisted by the African Wildlife Vets organisation. Sadly, a cheetah’s worst enemy remains man, and as such the presence of collars and close observation can prove a lifesaver for these magnificent cats.
Source: iSimangaliso’s cheetah – iSimangaliso Wetland Park