re-uniting a cheetah cub with its mother

We are actualy a hands-off family, but we are also human and some times we are blessed by the impulsive decisions we make, this bushtrail post is about the eventful afternoon we shared with a baby cheetah…

cheetah and cubs

female cheetah with 3 of her cubs

Our story starts with an explanation of how the cheetah cub got lost. We live in a Nyala-breeding camp adjacent to the game reserve. The warthogs had dug under the fence and the very hungry cheetah thought it best to crawl under and take her cubs to a place where she could find food for her also very hungry, meat-eating cubs.

When the game ranger found her, she had killed one of the female Nyala. A vet was called to dart the cheetah family and take them back home, (we weren’t home at the time we went birding at Nylsvley). We are told one of the cubs made a dash before the vet could dart it, only the minimum amount of drug was used so they had to quickly transport them back into the reserve. They found the little cub but, by the time they took her to the others it was dark. We guess she did not locate her mother and walked back to the last place they had been together as a family – the nyala breeding camp…

Meanwhile, the next day, Pieter was helping me to set up the irrigation system to water our vegetable garden when he heard a cry, I was singing at the time and he asked me to listen, that’s when we heard the call of a creature coming from the Nyala-breeding camp. Pieter looked towards the sound and spotted the cub, only then did I see it!

Pieter ran into the house and grabbed a blanket and I took two towels, we set off to try and catch this little wild cat. As we approached her she ran down the hill and Pieter followed closely behind – I was amazed at the acceleration of the cheetah cub even at such a young age! Fortunately she chose a relatively open area and tired. Although cheetahs are the fastest animals on earth, they do not have the stamina to keep up a pro-longed chase, and this is why Pieter was able to catch up to her!

He threw the blanket over her and carefully wrapped her up in it, making sure no claws or teeth could lash out at him. We placed her into the back of our bakkie and took her back to the game reserve. When we got within 20 metres of the cheetah mother, Pieter took the towels and lifted the rather timid-looking little cub. Well, it growled and hissed and tried to bite and scratch Pieter, proving to be rather ferocious.

The Scene it made and loud alarm screams called its mother to attention, and when Pieter released the cub, the mother was only about 10 metres away – at that moment she called out to the cub, it stopped running turned and responded to her call. The young cheetah cub was calmed by her mothers gentle licking and was now re-united with its mother, brothers and sister.

Pieter checked on the family today and they all seem relaxed and happy!

So, even though we do not like fences and human contact with animals, this time, our intervention helped a lost cub find its way home.

cheetah cubs

cheetah, witwater game reserve

cheetah and her cubs

Four cubs and their mother

Accommodation options on this reserve are at Witwater Safari Lodge or self-catering Chalets

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