Two cheetahs born in captivity in the UK have arrived in South Africa to begin their rewilding journey.
The two-and-a-half-year-old brothers, Saba and Nairo, who were born at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, arrived on February 7 at Ashia’s Cheetah Centre in Paarl, W Cape, which will be their home during their transition and preparation period.
“We are relieved that these two magnificent cats have arrived safely and we will give them the best (hands-off) care possible while at Ashia," says Chantal Rischard, Founder of Ashia.
The brothers were welcomed to their new, spacious camp with a meal of fresh springbok, which they devoured, and have since been making themselves at home in their new environment.
"The Aspinall Foundation’s animal team already started with Ashia’s pre-wilding protocol during the boys’ last weeks at Howletts and we are confident that they will be ready in a matter of weeks to take their next rewilding step," says Rischard.
The final step is the translocation to Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve a 14,000 hectare property in the Great Karoo.
"It’s is an absolute privilege and honour to be part of the rewilding of Saba & Nairo and I can’t wait to see them running free on Mount Camdeboo! It is essential for the conservation of wildlife and our environment that these pioneering projects take place. There are so many benefits on all fronts, increasing the genetic diversity of this species will mean that they have a greater chance of survival indefinitely. This is also a call to all zoos globally that it is indeed possible to rewild certain animals and that they can have an important role to play in the greater mission of conservation. There are still many milestones ahead and we look forward to celebrating each one!", says Iain Buchanan, owner of Mount Camdeboo.
Damian Aspinall, Chairman of The Aspinall Foundation said: "Thanks to an incredible and dedicated team of experts, we have accomplished a world-first. Two cheetahs born and raised in the UK have taken their first steps on African soil.