Cheetah Njozi is back but may never have left Rietvlei Nature Reserve
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Njozi, the female cheetah who had everyone running around looking for her over the past few days, may have never left the Rietvlei Nature Reserve.
She was seen over the weekend, safe in the reserve.
This is according to Vincent van der Merwe of the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
“Njozi is back. We don't think she ever left the reserve. All the pictures of the footprints that were sent to us were definitely brown hyena. The reported cheetah sightings were probably just Serval.”
Van der Merwe said it was obviously a case of mistaken identity.
One of the problems which they faced in tracking the movements of Njozi was the fact that her fitted tracking collar had not been working for sometime.
Van der Merwe said they had been trying for three months to re-collar her, but it was a daunting task. “We have a new collar, but the problem is fitting it because she gets seen so rarely – basically once a month. We will have to get a vet here to assist when she is seen, so everything will have to come together.”
But Van der Merwe said they will keep on trying and hopefully the opportunity will present itself soon to re-collar her and keep track of her movements.
Njozi had everyone on a wild-goose chase and a helicopter and microlite even took to the sky after people in the vicinity of the reserve claimed that they had seen Njozi roaming around.
It was suspected that she was chasing a waterbuck and managed to get out, as there were reports of a dead buck along the fence.
Van der Merwe and his team feared the worst if Njozi was out, including that she may have been run over by a car. But he said they are very relieved that she is fine and running around in the reserve after she was spotted there over the weekend.
The two-year-old Njozi – meaning dreams in Swahili – will have to roam Rietvlei alone for a while until she is joined by a new mate sometime later.
She joined Rietvlei last year after she was relocated from a reserve in the Western Cape.
She was temporarily joined by a young male called Joe, who was recently relocated. The two of them met in the boma where Njozi was kept for about a month ahead of Joe’s arrival in October.
They were both then released into the nature reserve, where they have been an occasional sight to visitors.