They say you should never say never when it comes to animals, and this could not have been more true recently. We have been trying for some time to fit some radio-collars onto Cheetahs, but have struggled to catch any. Cheetahs are notoriously difficult as they do not come into bait like most of the other carnivores, so opportunities to dart or trap them are greatly reduced. One evening while baiting and playing calls of a buffalo calf to draw in a male lion so that he could be darted and have his collar changed, we all learned an important lesson in keeping an open mind. Expecting the Lion to come out of the bushes at any moment, we were surprised to see a coalition of male Cheetahs instead. These animals that “do not eat carrion” fed happily on the bait and one was easily darted.
Cheetahs in this area are typically quite small, but this one was quite an exception. With a big head, and estimated weight of about 55kgs, he was quite a boy! They have been moving around over large areas since we have had the collar on, but have not yet left the reserve. They are still shy, but are gradually becoming more relaxed to the presence of a vehicle.
This is a very exciting development in the carnivore research in this area, and we hope to have more Cheetahs fitted with collars soon. Watch this space!