Cheetah to be Re-introduced Back onto Rietflei

On 14 November 2014, in partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), the Rietvlei Nature Reserve, situated between Johannesburg and Pretoria, will reintroduce a male Cheetah into its 3 800ha reserve after a two year absence of Cheetahs from the reserve. The Cheetah will help to regulate the prey population in the reserve. A female Cheetah is currently being sought to join this male in early 2015.

The first reintroduction of Cheetahs in Rietvlei included only two males in March 2003. These males lived until age 15 on Rietvlei and died during 2012/2013 from age related factors. In 2013, Rietvlei contacted the EWT's Cheetah Metapopulation Project with a request for new Cheetahs as prey populations on the reserve were approaching unsustainable levels.

Said Vincent van der Merwe, the EWT's Cheetah Metapopulation Project coordinator "An effective way to increase Cheetah numbers and to increase their range in South Africa is to reintroduce them onto small fenced reserves", continued van der Merwe, "a Cheetah population on one small reserve is not viable in the long-term but 50 small populations are viable if managed as a single population (the Metapopulation)."

Rietvlei is one of the reserves that forms part of the EWT’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project. With a rapid decline in suitable habitat for Cheetahs to roam freely in South Africa, the reintroduction of Cheetah into smaller reserves is an effective way to conserve the Vulnerable Cheetah.

For this reintroduction, a male Cheetah was identified from Sanbona Game Reserve, a 54 000ha private game reserve in the Western Cape which has provided Cheetahs to several metapopulation reserves over the past few years including Madikwe, Shamwari, Mabula, Nkomazi and Amakhala. Any offspring that are produced by the Rietvlei Cheetahs will be distributed to other metapopulation reserves in conjunction with the EWT’s project. "Through the EWT Metapopulation project in South Africa, we have seen considerable growth in Cheetah numbers" added van der Merwe.

The EWT's Cheetah Metapopulation Project is supported by: the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Scovill Zoo, St Louis Zoo and Relate Bracelets.

For more information contact:

Vincent van der Merwe
Cheetah Metapopulation Coordinator
Carnivore Conservation Programme
The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
Mobile: +27 74 166 0410

Kelly Marnewick
Carnivore Conservation Programme Manager
The Endangered Wildlife Trust 
Tel: +27 11372 3600
Mobile: +27 82 477 4470     
Lillian Mlambo
Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600

For more about the Endangered Wildlife Trust, refer to  

This article was first published in the 14 November 2014 by NGO Pulse and is available online here.