Recently, Thula Thula had been wanting to introduce a cheetah into the game reserve. This is because cheetahs are a vulnerable species and Thula Thula wants to help with conservation of yet another African mammal, after their successful elephant and rhino programs.
A little over a month ago, they found a cheetah named Savannah from Ashia Cheetah Conservation. She is the first cheetah in the Thula Thula area since 1941. Her introduction to Thula Thula is part of a bigger project to maximize the genetic diversity and range expansion of cheetahs in South Africa.
Savannah was put in a boma. A boma is a place where new animals can spend about a month to acclimatize to a novel environment. During the last month, the Thula Thula team along with EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust) have been observing and monitoring Savannah to make sure she is ready for release. To learn more - click here.
Last Friday, was the big day when Savannah was released into the wilderness of Thula Thula. The release went extremely well, with Savannah only hesitating a little bit before exploring the vast bush that was ahead of her. And to celebrate this occasion - drew 2 sketches of Savannah, which you can check out here.
This is a big day for Thula Thula, as they haven't actively bred or run conservation programs for any large land carnivores prior to this. Although the cheetah isn't technically a big cat as it is not part of the genus panthera, it still shares the same hunting prowess as it's big cat counterparts.
Though cheetahs are not considered critically endangered by the IUCN, they are vulnerable, with their population steadily decreasing. Some scientists are calling for the cheetah to be enlisted as endangered soon, because of the noticeably sparse population. In South Africa, cheetahs are the most vulnerable carnivore, aftre the African Wild Dog.
The main reason cheetahs are endangered is loss of habitat. With the development of the African continent as a whole, cheetahs seem to be losing the vast open plains that they need to hunt in. This is causing many cheetahs to starve, as the more dense, thick bush is taking over. In fact, although cheetahs can theoretically run up to speeds of 130 kmph, they get bullied of their carcasses most of the time. So open plains provide a lot of opportunity for cheetahs, which is imperative to their success.
As always, your donations through #ayansartforconservation go towards wildlife conservation. This time, we have adopted Savannah. Thank you for your support and please continue spreading awareness about the declining population of cheetahs, because they truly are special evalutionary products!