The Maputo Special Reserve, a wildlife conservation area south of the Mozambican capital, has received four cheetahs, which will play an important role in maintaining the necessary ecological balance within the area.
The four individuals of the endangered feline, brought from two private game reserves in South Africa, were released into the open area of the reserve, covering 104,000 hectares, after completing a three week quarantine period to adapt to their new habitat.
The relocation and reintroduction of this predator, considered the fastest terrestrial mammal on the planet, is part of the plan to establish a healthy animal population within the boundaries of the conservation area. There are only about 6,600 cheetahs remaining across the continent.
The Director-General of the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), Mateus Mutemba, said the government body and its partners are committed to expanding and safeguarding the precious ecological assets of the Maputo Special Reserve.
“The reintroduction of the cheetah has become another historic landmark in conservation and the continued development of the Reserve. Since 2010, when the rehabilitation of the Maputo Special Reserve started, we have reintroduced around 5,000 herbivores of various species,” he added.
Mutemba also pointed out the improvement of protection conditions at the Reserve as well as the habitat which allowed a sound growth in the herbivore population, now estimated at about 12,000 animals.
The reintroduction of the cheetah, which feeds on small herbivores, is a management measure aiming at ensuring the Reserve’s ecological capacity to accommodate herbivores, but also to add an endangered species that can be observed by visitors.
Cheetah Translocation Week, Part 1: Four cheetah move to Maputo Special Reserve
— Peace Parks TV (@peaceparkstv) October 25, 2021
The director of Ashia Cheetah Conservation, Marna Smit, stated that the reintroduction of cheetah into protected areas is among the key strategies to reduce the risk of extinction, fuelled by habitat loss but also by events such as poaching, prey depletion and disease.
“We welcome the opportunity to partner with ANAC and Peace Parks, as well as EWT’s Cheetah Range Expansion Project, to introduce cheetahs into the appropriate habitat of the Maputo Special Reserve,” she added.
The resettlement programme is crucial for the Special Reserve’s restoration and development, largely financed by the MozBio government programme and the World Bank. Nearly 5,000 animals, including elephants, buffalos, giraffes, impalas, waterbuck, warthog, bushbuck, wildebeest and zebras, have been translocated over the past decade.