This landscape may look idyllic. But something is important is missing. There are no large predators in Mountain Zebra National Park, which was established some 70 years ago. But that’s about to change. Cheetahs will once again hunt these grounds.
Reasearcher Kelly Marnewick is working with 2 males that are being relocated to the park. Named Batman and Robin, the dynamic duo will restore the parks predator-prey balance. While helping out, some of South Africa’s wild game farmers.
De Wildt Wild Cheetah project started in the year 2000 as a result of conflict experience between farmers and cheetahs. The farmers approached De Wildt with their problems with Cheetahs and asked them to please come up with solutions to the conflict.
To better understand the conflict, researchers have been monitoring the cheetah’s movements. By outfitting the animals with a Gps cell phone caller. Kelly can follow their routes on her computer.
And from this website we can see where the cheetahs are walking. And where they have been, even if we couldn’t find them or see them.
Regular updates show when a cheetah trespasses on a farm. And you can see these brown lines here represent farm boundaries. And you can see how the cheetahs are moving in and out of game fencing.
As a last resort when a cheetah causes too much damage on a farm, it must be captured and relocated. The problem cheetahs get a thorough veterinarian check up. Once finished with the preparations, the team sets off across country to the cheetah’s new home. After arriving at Mountain Zebra National park, the rangers put Batman and Robin in an enclosure called Aboman. Here they are climatized to the local surroundings and the locals are climatized to them.
I have to say when we first brought them here, they arrived and we put them in Aboman. We had a line of spring buck lined up on the other side, because they didn’t really know what was going on. And the monkeys were cha cha cha. They know now that there’s a predator in the area.
After several months its time to release the cheetahs into the park. The rangers tempt Batman and Robin out of their enclosures with a carcass. But this will be their last hand fed meal. From now on they will hunt their own prey. Park rangers use radio collars to monitor the cheetahs closely. But within a few days, the cats slip into stealth mode and go off the radar.
However some grizzly remains suggest the males are adapting well. As for the zebras and other game, their idyllic life maybe over. But the picture of a healthy eco system is looking more complete.
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