Kuzuko and Ashia
It’s been an exciting few months at Kuzuko Lodge in the Eastern Cape. This popular bush lodge is known to be the home of the famous roaming lion Sylvester, as well as a newly wilded female cheetah named Jasmin.
Working with the Cheetah Breeding Project and Ashia Cheetah Conservation, Kuzuko has begun to set up a natural breeding section for cheetahs. This 600ha area will allow captive born cheetahs to hunt, mate and, importantly, breed in the wild.
Because the area is free of predators (such as lions and leopards), the cheetahs can be monitored securely. It is believed by both Ashia Conservation and Kuzuko that this would allow for an increased survival rate amoung cubs and give them an opportunity to learn how to survive in the wild with their mothers as their teachers.
“We partnered with Kuzuko as the game reserve offers the most dedicated wildlife management under Gerhard de Lange, and a perfect set-up for captive-born and captive-raised cats to gain the necessary fitness and hunting skills for their future life in the wild. Extending the initial wilding and release concept with the breeding venture opens the door to a whole new level of conservation,” states Chantal Rischard from Ashia.
Right now, the 300ha wilding section houses a 5-year-old male cheetah who is in the process of improving his fitness and hunting on a regular basis. It is hoped that he will be released on an Eastern Cape game reserve by the middle of the year.
Kuzuko and Ashia both closely work with the management of South Africa's Cheetah Metapopulation Project of the EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust). The team at EWT assist by identifying suitable game reserves for wilded cheetah and provides invaluable advice where needed.
“All adult cats made their first kill a mere 6-10 days after being released onto the Wilding and Breeding Section. They are doing exceptionally well, and their personality, behaviour and physical condition changed surprisingly fast. We are in uncharted waters and may experience set-backs but we are convinced it is a very promising way to go forward in cheetah conservation,” states Gerhard de Lange from Kuzuko.
Click here to find out more about the project: lstyl.com/CFXV6C