It appears that the cheetah caught in Swakopmund on Monday was released a month ago near Sossusvlei – about 250 km south of Swakopmund.
The cheetah was transported from the Swakopmund SPCA to the Cheetah Conservation Fund at Otjiwarongo yesterday. Dr Laurie Marker, founder and executive director of the CCF, told The Namibian that the collar the cat was wearing belonged to the N/a’an ku se Wildlife Sanctuary outside Windhoek. “They said that they released this cheetah along with its brother – both were radio-collared and released at Little Kulalla (sic) near Sossusvlei north of NamibRand about a month ago,” Marker said via e-mail.
“So, how this cat ended up in Swakop is amazing and what a distance to have it travel! We are concerned as to how it got into the middle of the city and where is its brother? We will check the cat out more when we see it back here at CCF and will work with N/a’an ku se with this cat,” she said.
Dr Rudi van Vuuren of N/a’an ku se confirmed that this could be one of the cheetahs released a month ago. He said the cheetah and its brother were taken from a farm near Witvlei, where the farmer intended to kill them because they had allegedly caught the farmer’s sable antelope. Van Vuuren said the N/a’an ku se project’s objective is to remove carnivores from conflict areas and release them in conflict-free areas. They therefore took the two cats, fitted them with VHF collars and released them.
“It’s amazing that this cheetah ended up there, and stranger even that it was in a town. It’s a wild cat. We are also concerned about its brother and will have to try and locate it,” he said. The cat, which is estimated to be about two years old, caused quite a stir when it was spotted on Monday morning walking around and lying down under a bush in the Vineta residential area.
Local veterinarian Dr Hartmut Winterbach was called and he eventually darted the cheetah in view of a crowd of onlookers in the backyard of a house in Cormorant Street, near Swakopmund’s Waterfront. It was then taken to the SPCA where it stayed in a large kennel until CCF representatives arrived yesterday to take the protected animal back with them to Otjiwarongo.
The cheetah was said to be in “excellent condition”, but still fairly young, considering its lack of hunting and fighting scars. Its teeth, claws and footpads were also still in good condition, ruling out the possibility of it ever being trapped and kept in a cage for some time.
Dr Marker said there were about 3 000 cheetahs in Namibia, a third of the world population of 10 000. Cheetahs are a CITES Appendix 1 endangered species that may not be transported without permission. Dr Van Vuuren said the cat would be inspected and it would be very likely released in the wild again.