Historically cheetah have been sighted on the Selati Game Reserve area over the early years even before the reserve was established. It is presumed that with the development of game farms in the area and increased fencing, the movement of cheetah who require large ranges, had become restricted, their numbers were impacted upon by predators, traffic, hunters, human animal conflict and poachers.
In early 2015 an opportunity was presented to Selati by SANParks to introduce three young cheetah (two males and one female) from the Mountain Zebra National Park in the Eastern Cape. The three cheetah became available after their mother had died as a result of a snake bite. Because of the young age, the animals were initially introduced into a fenced 500 hectare camp away from other predators and fed on a regular basis until such time as they could be released onto the greater reserve and could hunt for themselves. The three cheetah were released into the camp on Selati on the 13th of March 2015.
The process of maintaining a presence in terms of feeding and monitoring and yet not allowing a human interaction was a careful balance and was strictly adhered to. The ultimate aim was to introduce wild cheetah onto the greater reserve. During the months that the cheetah were in the camp they quickly learnt to hunt for themselves. Unfortunately, during the translocation of the cheetah out of the camp, one of the males died as a result of the stress of the darting of this operation. A short while later the remaining female was found dead near an impala kill. The speculation was that she had been killed by a leopard. The remaining male was released onto the reserve. Regular sightings of him occur and he has proved to be a successful predator.
In 2018 a mature female was sourced from the Rietvlei Nature Reserve. The Selati Wilderness Foundation sponsored the project and she arrived on Selati on the 19th of May 2018.
Soon after her arrival, she gave birth to seven cubs. Unfortunately the cubs did not survive and it has been speculated that the cubs were mostly likely predated on by Hyena or possibly jackal. Again we were surprised to discover that she had given birth to a second litter of five cubs in late November 2018.
Four of the original five cubs have survived and they are now around eighteen months old. There are three females and one male and Selati will need take advice at some stage as to how we manage the gene pool into the future.
Read more about the detailed history of the re-introduction of cheetah onto the Selati Game Reserve below.