An adult cheetah died tragically after being trapped in a snare inside a KwaZulu-Natal Game Reserve. The nursing mother left behind two eight-month-old cubs. Picture: African Wildlife Vets Facebook page
An adult cheetah died tragically after being trapped in a snare inside a KwaZulu-Natal Game Reserve. The nursing mother left behind two eight-month-old cubs. Picture: African Wildlife Vets Facebook page

Mother cheetah dies trapped in wire snare; leaves two cubs

By Dominic Naidoo Time of article published Dec 18, 2021

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Cape Town – An adult cheetah died tragically after being trapped in a snare inside a KwaZulu-Natal Game Reserve last week. The nursing mother left behind two eight-month-old cubs.

As the cubs were too young to fend for themselves, the decision was made to capture them. Field Rangers from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and a wildlife monitor from Wildlife ACT attended the incident and managed to track the cubs to a nearby bushy area. There they waited for African Wildlife vet, Dr Rowan Leeming, to arrive from another operation nearby.

Once Leeming arrived, the game reserve’s management team provided an impala carcass which was dragged past the cubs’ hiding spot a few times to get their attention. It worked; the hungry siblings were interested in the fresh impala carcass and left their hiding place to investigate.

Leeming, using a sedative, managed to dart one of the cubs before both ran back into the bush, even more cautious than before.

The meat, now not being too appealing to cubs, the team needed another approach. Fortunately, one of the field rangers present at the scene was also a field guide and could imitate the call of almost any animal on the reserve. The ranger imitated a call used by cheetahs to locate each other and received a response from the cubs almost immediately.

African Wildlife Vets Facebook page

Dr Leeming reloaded another sedative dart and began tracking the cubs' inquisitive movements, keeping an eye out for the cub which was not darted. Crawling closer, the doctor managed to dart the second cub. Both cubs soon fell asleep under the shade of a nearby tree.

The future speedsters were carried up a steep hill before being loaded onto an awaiting helicopter. The cubs were monitored by Leeming throughout their journey. They are being kept in an enclosure until arrangements can be made to relocate them to a reserve which has experience in the rehabilitation of cheetah cubs.

Snaring incidents have become more frequent within reserves across South Africa with an African wild dog found caught in a snare in October this year. The wild dog was found after a Wildlife Act Priority Species Monitor noticed that the animal’s tracking collar location had not changed while the dog pack had moved on.

Authorities at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife were notified and managed to free the dog which was then released in the vicinity of his pack. Rangers and Wildlife ACT staff monitored him for a few days afterwards to ensure his recovery.

If you would like to support the work of Wildlife ACT and African Wildlife Vets, visit their respective websites or social media for more information on how to donate.

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