Sadly, we later learned that a second cheetah had been shot on a nearby farm later the same day. And the third cat in the group was shot a week or two later. This last one had a severe snare injury to a hind leg, which had withered the leg to the point of uselessness (no doubt contributing to his habit of taking livestock), and he was also shot.
We have named the cheetah that was saved from the snare “Thaki,” in recognition of the role that Thakadu staff played in her rescue. Fortunately, she has progressed well in rehab, and we’re getting ready to translocate her to a new area where she will have “a second chance” at life without the potentially deadly conflict with livestock farmers.
Generally speaking, CCB does not endorse translocating conflict predators except as an absolute last resort. We take this position for two major reasons. First, we believe that in most instances it is possible for farmers to coexist with predators. There are many ways that farmers can improve the protection of their livestock and keep them safe from predation, and we do our best to equip each farmer with the necessary knowledge to do so. The farmer, of course, must maintain an open mind and accept that he and his stock CAN coexist with predators, and be willing to act on the advice we give him. Fortunately, many farmers do (but there are also those who do not). Second, successful translocation is difficult to accomplish and the record of documentably successful predator translocation in Botswana is thin. So, we are reluctant to translocate unless the situation has become desperate and it’s down to a choice between the near certainty of death by bullet or snare vs a second chance via translocation. Clearly, this was the state of affairs with these three cheetahs, with two having been shot and one nearly killed by snaring.
A satellite tracking collar is currently being fabricated for us in South Africa. Meanwhile, we have been in discussions with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) to jointly identify a suitable translocation area and release point that, to the maximum extent possible, meets the criteria outlined above. We will soon undertake a scouting trip to the favored site to be sure we’re happy with what we see on the ground, and to speak to the chief at the nearest settlement – about 50km distant from the proposed release site – to advise the local people of our plans. We will also inform them that, as a collared cat, Thaki is a research animal and we would appreciate reports of any future sightings.
We’re sure you will join us in wishing Thaki a successful translocation and a new life in a new neighborhood without conflict!