Monday 29th May, 2017, Malawi: Central African Wilderness Safaris recently extended its support to African Parks and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, in their facilitation of the translocation of four cheetahs from South Africa to Liwonde National Park in Malawi. This ground-breaking conservation initiative which began earlier this year has proven to be a significant milestone in supporting the overall conservation efforts of this endangered species. It has also been a long-awaited opportunity for Malawi to revive its cheetah population.
The four cheetahs, one male and three females, arrived safely in Liwonde National Park around early afternoon on the 17th of May. Prior to their release into the wild, the cheetahs were transferred directly from the Makhanga airstrip to a boma near Chinguni Hills, where they will be allowed to gradually acclimatize to their new environment. To assist the translocation, CAWS lent its Rhino Research vehicle (donated by the Wilderness Trust) to provide some extra logistical support for the translocation and to help transport some of the crates carrying the cheetahs to the bomas.
According to a research study led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), cheetahs are in serious danger of extinction due to a rapid and ongoing reduction in their historical range. In the last 100 years, Africa’s human population has increased by almost twenty-fold, displacing cheetahs and occupying an alarming 91% of their range. The ZSL and Panthera studies have found that there are only around 7,100 cheetahs in the entire world at present (i.e. 9% of their historical range), predominantly confined to the three African countries, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. Cheetahs have technically been extinct in Malawi for nearly a century and very few people are aware that this species once lived in Liwonde National Park, as there are very few records to show for it.
In an effort to give the species greater environmental protection, wildlife experts are calling for the big cat to be rated “endangered,” instead of being termed as “vulnerable among threatened species”. Experts also speculate that the large space requirements for cheetah, coupled with the complex range of threats faced by the species in the wild, means that they are prone to become much more susceptible to extinction than was previously estimated. The species is vulnerable to several dangers such as prey loss caused by overhunting, habitat loss and illegal trafficking. In addition, over three-quarters of cheetahs live outside the protected wildlife areas and, because they roam wide, they are naturally more vulnerable.
African Parks’ mission to restore this species to its former glory in the wild has opened the doorway to the revival of our own cheetah population, and our guests at Mvuu Camp and Mvuu Lodge may soon have the pleasure of viewing the fastest animal on earth roaming the floodplains of Liwonde National Park.
About Central African Wilderness Safaris:
About Us: Central African Wilderness Safaris (CAWS) is an ecotourism company that offers the finest quality safari experiences and the ultimate holiday getaways in Malawi, the warm heart of Africa. CAWS offers both up-market tailor-made luxury safaris as well as more affordable budget safari options. The company is dedicated to offering personalised and authentic travel experiences that have a minimal impact on the planet and a lasting impact on people.
Top two photos of relocation: Frank Weitzer
Feature photo of cheetah: Bentley Palmer
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