Cheetah Rewilding

Discover our ambitious initiative aimed at reintroducing captive cheetahs into the wild, while simultaneously empowering local communities. Through this project, we help diversify the cheetah gene pool while establishing a direct and mutually beneficial connection between threatened wildlife and the people who live in conservation areas.

LONG-TERM VISION
Our long-term vision aims to rewild captive cheetahs for successful release into protected areas while empowering local communities by:

  1. Managing rewilding programs in collaboration with partners.
  2. Contributing to rewilding protocol.
  3. Facilitating research for conservation.
  4. Releasing cheetahs into protected areas.
  5. Contributing to genetic diversification.
  6. Empowering local community members as Cheetah Champions.

OUR PARTNERS

Cheetah Rewilding Program:

  • Nyosi Wildlife Reserve
  • The Metapopulation Initiative
  • WeWild Africa

Cheetah Champion Program:

  • Wilderness Foundation Africa
  • Ulovane Environmental Training
  • Nyosi Wildlife Reserve

CHEETAH CONSERVATION CONCERNS:

  • 89% population decline in historic range
  • Global cheetah population dropped from about 100,000 in the year 1900 to approximately 7,000 individuals today
  • 29 fragmented subpopulations formed due to human expansion, diminishing their genetic integrity
  • Heightened conflict with humans, especially in farming areas where cheetahs are persecuted
  • Illegal breeding for exotic pet trade further threatens genetic integrity
  • Urgent calls to uplist from Vulnerable to Endangered, meaning better protection measures
  • Only 1200-1700 cheetahs remain in South Africa
  • 600+ cheetahs in South African captivity
  • Some managed for release into protected areas. Those with suitable bloodlines are selected for rewilding

ABOUT THE CHEETAH METAPOPULATION

The Cheetah Metapopulation Initiative coordinates and manages the cheetah metapopulation project which was launched in 2011 in response to the drastic decline in cheetah numbers. A major goal of the project is to encourage further reintroductions as well as to streamline and regulate relocations between the fragmented metapopulation reserves. The project provides reserve managers with best practice guidelines for cheetah reintroduction, based on experience gained from almost 700 Cheetah relocations.

THE CHEETAH REWILDING PROCESS

  1. Caring and Enrichment: At captive facilities, caretakers provide dedicated care for captive cheetahs. They are provided with enriching activities and regular exercise sessions, which involve chasing fast-moving lures to keep them physically fit and to sharpen their hunting instincts.
  2. Soft-Release at Nyosi Wildlife Reserve: Upon selection, one to three cheetahs are relocated to Nyosi Wildlife Reserve for a carefully designed soft-release program. Upon arrival, they undergo a gradual acclimation process within a spacious enclosure, allowing them to adjust to their new surroundings and natural diet. In the case of multiple male cheetahs, a bonding period is facilitated to encourage coalition formation, enhancing their survival prospects in the wild. Each cheetah is equipped with tracking devices for monitoring purposes. After 6-8 weeks, they are released onto the 2,500 Hectare reserve. Throughout their stay at Nyosi, they have the opportunity to engage in natural hunting behaviors and become self-sufficient. The reserve team closely monitors their progress, ensuring they consistently demonstrate the ability to sustain themselves. The duration of the rewilding phase at Nyosi varies, typically lasting between 6 to 12 months per cheetah intake, depending on individual progress.
  3. Final Release at Partner Reserves: Once deemed ready, cheetahs are transported to carefully selected partner reserves for their final release. Upon arrival, they undergo a brief period of acclimatization within enclosed areas to familiarize themselves with the new habitat and surroundings. After this acclimation period, they are released into the reserve to begin their life in the wild.Our rewilding program is an ongoing endeavor, with each phase meticulously planned to ensure the successful transition of captive cheetahs back into their natural habitat. Join us in our mission to safeguard the future of these magnificent creatures.

CHEETAH CHAMPION PROGRAM

With each cheetah we rewild, we pledge to empower a community member chosen to become a “Cheetah Champion.” This individual receives sponsorship to participate in an internship or skill development program focused on conservation or ecotourism. In exchange, the Cheetah Champion becomes a wildlife conservation ambassador in their community, motivating fellow youths to engage in conservation efforts.