Cheetahs are set to return to Maputo Special Reserve in southern Mozambique for the first time since the 1960s.
Four of the big cats – sourced from private game reserves in South Africa – have been transported safely to holding bomas within the 104 200ha reserve.
Director-General of Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), Mateus Mutemba, says: “We have been committed to expanding and safeguarding the precious ecological assets of Maputo Special Reserve, a region that protects the best of Mozambique’s natural heritage.”
He said through ANAC’s partnership with the Peace Parks Foundation, the reintroduction of cheetah was yet another historic conservation milestone in Mozambique and in the ongoing development of the reserve into a self-sustaining operation that generated revenue for the communities living in the area.
Two male cheetahs were flown in from the &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu Natal, and an adult female and her sub-adult female cub were flown from the Waterval Private Game Reserve (of which Botlierskop Game Reserve & Villas is custodian), near Kimberley in the Northern Cape. The animals were donated by Ashia Cheetah Conservation, who also covered the costs of the translocation, including transportation, vaccination, and the fitting of tracking collars to monitor the big cats in their new environment.
“Reintroduction of cheetahs into protected areas is one of the key strategies to reduce the risk of extinction, fuelled by habitat loss and events such as persecution, prey depletion and disease,” explains Marna Smit, Director of Ashia Cheetah Conservation. “We therefore welcomed the opportunity to partner with ANAC and Peace Parks, as well as the Cheetah Range Expansion Project of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) to introduce cheetah into the suitable habitat of Maputo Special Reserve.”
“This represents our 26th cheetah reintroduction over the past decade. Thanks to the efforts of ANAC and Peace Parks, there are now greater levels of ecological functionality in the protected areas of Mozambique. This has created safe spaces for the reintroduction of wild cheetahs within their historical range,” adds Vincent van der Merwe, Cheetah Range Expansion Project Co-ordinator at the EWT’s Carnivore Conservation Programme.