As Southern Africa moves into the dry winter, we are facing a drought, the scale of which hasn’t been witnessed for decades. We pray for early heavy rains, however the toll on the grazers will be enormous. Africa’s cycle of feast or famine is as old as the continent itself.
The foundation continues to press on in our quest to make a difference. We have completed the first stage of the cheetah program. Three weeks ago we spent days in the park searching for the elusive predators. Two veterinary teams, two ACT vehicles with spotter and myself covered the 96 000ha Hluluwe Imfolozi Park with zero sightings.
Eventually, my time ran out and, as luck would have it, no sooner had I left the park for home, the team chanced upon a young female on a kill. Mindful of the heat, the veterinary team waited until the temperatures dropped and darted her. All went to plan. The necessary tests and inoculations were carried out and our collar fitted. A short time later a second female was darted and collared.
As of my last communique, the monitoring teams are able to check upon the females regularly. The foundation covered the costs of the collars, all the drugs, fuel and expertise.
Upon my return from the Kalahari, ACT and myself will be traveling the nearly 750km to the Pilansburg National Park to dart, collar and transport a coalition of 3 cheetah brothers to introduce into the Hluluwe imfolozi Park. Once in the park they will be put into an enclosure for a short time before being released into the wild.
We are very excited about the program. With the introduction of new blood, the species within the park will be assured of a stronger gene pool.
During my visit to Hluluwe Imfolozi Park (HIP), ACT, National Parks and I discussed the need for a lion re-introduction similar to our efforts with the cheetah. As is the norm, the road to conservation is paved with great plans and good intentions but little available funding.
Plans have been in place for months to acquire two pairs of brothers from neighbouring Botswana and release them into the park. A previous lion introduction took place decades ago and the inbreeding is beginning to take its toll in the resident prides.
As a foundation, we are excited to work to improve the situation of lion in general, but to have the opportunity to be involved in such an international effort is a great privilege. I am hoping that my friends and collectors will rise to the occasion and make this dream a reality…..