Sibella, the cheetah whose life was almost ended by hunters when she was two years old and who was violently beaten and locked in a cage while growing up, has grandchildren.
While Sibella died at the age of fourteen in 2015 after a clash with a duiker during a hunt left her with a gaping hole in her abdomen, her cubs are keeping the family history alive. Sibella was relocated to Samara Private Game Reserve, becoming the first wild cheetah back in the Great Karoo in 125 years.
The discovery of newborn cheetah cubs on a mountain slope within the Great Karoo reserve this month was a sign that the memory of Sibella lives on. The cubs’ mother, Chilli, is the last daughter of Sibella and the birth of Sibella’s grand-cubs marks an extremely special development not only for Samara but for those individuals working tirelessly to save these big cats. With fewer than 7,100 remaining worldwide, this latest birth represents a significant contribution to the cheetah’s ongoing conservation.
Sibella’s story touched hearts and minds, turning her into a celebrated figure both in South Africa and worldwide. Born a wild cheetah in South Africa’s North West province, she was fortunate enough to be rescued by the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust after numerous clashes with death. Following five-hour surgery and dedicated rehabilitation, Sibella was relocated to Samara Private Game Reserve where she became an able hunter, going on to outlive most cheetah in the wild. Despite her previous violent experience at the hands of man, Sibella developed a unique bond of trust with the Samara team, her past suffering all but forgotten.
Successfully rearing 19 cubs across four litters during her lifetime, Sibella was an exemplary mother, giving birth on steep mountain slopes to avoid potential predators and eating only after her young had had their fill. Even despite death she left behind grown-up cubs that, like Chilli, are now flourishing in the wild. The Samara team will be keeping a close eye on the new cheetah cubs and will track their progress over the next few months and years.