TWO cheetahs that were released on the Okonjima Private Nature Reserve in June 2010 were attacked by leopards early in February.
Trish was killed while Charlie, the stronger of the two, survived with injuries.
A mortality signal was picked up by one of the Okonjima guides while out tracking and upon further investigation Trish was found dead. She had deep wounds all over her body, indicating that a leopard had attacked and killed her.
Early in February AfriCat noticed some marks on Charlie and saw that his tail was scarred. He was darted and an examination showed that he had in fact survived a leopard attack. He had bites on his neck and chest and a piece of his tail was missing.
Charlie was taken to the Otjiwarongo Veterinary Clinic where he received treatment for a week. Charlie is now recovering well and is back at the Welfare Section of AfriCat, bonding with a group of cheetahs that need to go back into rehab. One of the cheetahs in that group was also struggling to survive on its own after it was injured by an eland.
Charlie was confiscated by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism department from a private owner in the Gobabis area who wanted to keep him as a pet. He arrived at AfriCat when he was three months old.
Trish was given to AfriCat as a cub after her mother was shot and she was not able to survive on her own.
Over the past 17 years the AfriCat Foundation has rescued over 1 000 cheetahs and leopards who were the victims of human-wildlife conflict. Over 85% of the animals have been returned to the wild, but some cannot be released immediately as they may be too young or have sustained injuries.
After ten years of planning the Okonjima Private Nature Reserve, 22 000 hectares of wilderness will enable AfriCat to expand and accelerate its rehabilitation programme with the ultimate aim of returning more large carnivore back to the wild.
Okonjima is initiating research projects on wild leopard populations within the Okonjima Nature Reserve and is evolving cheetah rehabilitation into a streamlined, well-planned project, allowing previously captive large and small carnivores back where they belong, in the wild.
They are hoping that this project can be used as a model for reintroduction to neighbouring countries and to ideal relocation sites in Namibia. It is hoped that all NGOs will utilise this park in preparing their captive animals for release.