css menu builder by Css3Menu.com

Lessons from past reintroductions

Cheetah have been introduced into 48 small fenced reserves in South Africa since 1965. Many reintroductions have failed for the following reasons:

  1. The use of captive Cheetahs for reintroduction. Captive Cheetah are naive in the presence of other large predators. They often hunt prey species that are too large or inappropriate. The veterinary costs associated with rehabilitating injured Cheetah are considerable. Despite numerous attempts to reintroduce captive Cheetah into Metapopulation reserves, only one captive raised Cheetah survives in the Metapopulation today (July 2014).
  2. The relocation of predator naive Cheetahs into reserves with high predator densities has resulted in the loss of numerous wild Cheetah. Where possible, predator adapted Cheetah should be reintroduced into reserves with Lion (Panthera leo), Leopard (Panthera pardus) and Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta).
  3. The sale of ‘problem animals’ from ranchland into inadequately fenced reserves has resulted in further Cheetah farmer conflict. This has had negative implications for relations with communities living on the fringes of Metapopulation reserves. Free roaming Cheetah should not be sourced for reintroduction onto Metapopulation reserves.
  4. The lack of long term management following reintroductions have resulted in population increases to ecologically unacceptable levels. In one specific case a founder population of five animals increased to 30 inbred animals in just five years. The negative publicity associated with such reintroductions have discouraged potential Cheetah reserves from acquiring these animals.
  5. The use of inexperienced veterinarians. Reserves often wait long periods of time to source suitable Cheetah for reintroduction. In July 2014 there was a demand for 50 Metapopulation Cheetah by 26 reserves. When suitable Cheetah are finally sourced it is imperative that predator experienced veterinarians are utilised to immobilise and collar these Cheetah. It is incredibly frustrating for reserve management when Cheetah are finally sourced but lost due to immobilisation complications.

One of the roles of the Metapopulation project is to provide management advice to reserves wishing to reintroduce Cheetah. Through the establishment of management clusters, the project hopes to develop networks of expertise, to facilitate communication and information sharing.