Cheetah on loose between Rietvlei, Delmas near R21 highway
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Pretoria - The hunt is on for Njozi, a female cheetah from Rietvlei Nature Reserve, which escaped on Tuesday evening, after apparently climbing under the fence in the reserve.
Vincent van der Merwe of the Endangered Wildlife Trust said they were not entirely sure how she got out. She was wearing an African Wildlife tracking collar, which has meanwhile stopped working.
“There is no way of tracking her down. We are not sure under which circumstances she managed to get out, but there is a belief that she possibly chased a waterbuck through the fence.” Van der Merwe said there was a severely damaged portion of the fence and a dead waterbuck was seen there, but at this stage it was simply speculation.
“So yes, we have this cheetah running around a sizeable portion of farmland between Rietvlei and Delmas area, although on Wednesday she was seen very close to the R21. We are, however, unable to get close to her. “
A helicopter and ground crew were dispatched on Wednesday in order to locate her, without any luck.
“The only way we are able to find her is if someone actually gets a visual. If we get a good visual and she is stationary, we will immediately have to find a vet and a helicopter to be available.”
Van der Merwe said they have a huge task ahead of them to try and find the cheetah and it could take some time to track and capture her.
While he is hopeful that she would be found soon, Van der Merwe said there was a possibility that things can go wrong, such as that she may be hit by a car or killed by illegal wildlife traders.
“We will see how things unfold. We are doing our best but it is not an easy task.” The 2-year-old Njozi , which means “dreams” in Swahili, came to 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 a regular sight for visitors. Since Joe’s relocation recently, Njozi was the only remaining cheetah at Rietvlei Nature Reserve.