The Aspinall Foundation

An emotional few months at Mount Camdeboo

Posted by The Aspinall Foundation on 06-Jul-2022 10:47:10

News from our groundbreaking cheetah rewilding project

The last few months have been a hugely emotional time for The Aspinall Foundation team in South Africa, as reports from Mount Camdeboo brought news both celebratory and heartbreaking.

Saba: A pioneer for the species

In October, we received word from our monitoring team and partners at the reserve that Saba had died while hunting in the wild. Our dedicated team of rangers undertook a challenging operation to airlift his body off the summit within Mount Camdeboo, where he had climbed with his brother .A post-mortem determined that he was killed by a horn penetrating his chest and abdomen, very likely whilst he was on top of his prey, possibly a young eland or oryx. He died within minutes, and given the inaccessibility of the location, there is simply no way anyone could have rescued him in time. We have taken comfort in the fact that Saba died a hero, hunting as a truly wild cheetah and pursuing his prey on a mountain top. Along with his brother, he was a pioneer for the species: the first captive-born cheetahs to ever be successfully rewilded from Europe. He enjoyed two remarkable years in the wild and was given a dignified burial in his favourite spot in the vast expanse of the Great Karoo.

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Saba © The Aspinall Foundation

New arrivals

November saw rather happier news emerging from the reserve. The Aspinall Foundation and our partners were absolutely elated to hear that four cheetah cubs had been born to Nairo and Ava, a captive-born cheetah who had grown up at Ashia Cheetah Centre and had been introduced to Nairo and Saba during their time in the rewilding section. The four youngsters arrived on the 14th November, and represent critical new genetics in the Southern African Cheetah Metapopulation Project, administered by the Endangered Wildlife Trust. All are doing very well and are being regularly monitored by rangers. One of the primary goals of our rewilding projects is to increase much-needed genetic diversity in wild populations, so these births are a huge win in ensuring the brothers’ legacy will live on through their valuable genetics, augmented by Ava’s strong genes. Nairo and Ava are skilled hunters, so they will both be fantastic providers for the cubs as they begin to explore their surroundings.

IMG-20220127-WA0007 Ava and her 4 cubs © The Aspinall Foundation

The project has emphatically proved that two captive-born cheetahs can breed successfully in the wild. We’ll continue to bring you updates on these spirited new-borns’ first steps under the epic skies of the Great Karoo.

Help us rescue even more animals >>

Topics: The Aspinall Foundation, Cheetah, back to the wild, south africa, backtothewild

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