Mount Camdeboo Game Reserve welcomes four new cheetah cubs

Posted by David Henning on 24 January 2022

Renowned conservation charity, The Aspinall Foundation and its partners are celebrating the birth of a litter of cheetah cubs at the Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve.

The four youngsters were born on November 12, 2021 at the Reserve, a 35,000-acre site in the heart of the Great Karoo. All are doing very well and are being regularly monitored by rangers. The cubs represent critical new genetics in the Southern African Cheetah Metapopulation Project, administered by the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

The cubs’ father, Nairo, was rewilded by The Aspinall Foundation from Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent to South Africa in a conservation world-first in 2020. He and his brother Saba were born at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve in Kent and transferred together from Howletts to South Africa in February 2020.

They began their new life at Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary, where they acclimatised and trained for life in the wild. Several months later, they moved to a rewilding boma at Mount Camdeboo, before finally being released onto the main reserve in February 2021.

Mother Ava grew up at Ashia Cheetah Center, in South Africa’s Western Cape, and had been released successfully rewilded to Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve before Nairo’s arrival. She was introduced to Nairo and Saba during their time in the rewilding section, in the hope that she would eventually choose to breed with one of the brothers.
Damian Aspinall, Chairman of The Aspinall Foundation, said:

‘This is such incredible news to emerge from our cheetah project. The Aspinall Foundation, Mount Camdeboo and Ashia Cheetah Conservation teams are elated,’ says Damian Aspinall, Chairman of The Aspinall Foundation. ‘And to watch these spirited newborns’ first steps under the epic skies of the Great Karoo is a true privilege.’

‘One of the primary goals of our rewilding projects is to increase much-needed genetic diversity in wild populations, so these births are a huge win in ensuring the brothers’ legacy will live on through their valuable genetics, augmented by Ava’s strong genes.’

‘Both her and Nairo are skilled hunters, so they will both be fantastic providers for the cubs as they begin to explore their surroundings. This project has emphatically proved that two captive-born cheetahs can breed successfully in the wild.’

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land mammal, capable of reaching speeds of up to 70mph. The wild population is estimated to be less than 7,000, with most in Southern Africa living in protected reserves, where the populations are becoming increasingly related. The ultimate goal of rewilding captive cheetahs is to produce wild and functional animals that can contribute positively to the wild gene pool.

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