Title page for ETD etd-07042011-101546

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Maruping, Nkabeng Thato
Email nkabengm@gmail.com
URN etd-07042011-101546
Document Title The re-introduction of captive bred cheetah into a wild environment, Makulu Makete Wildlife Reserve, Limpopo province, South Africa
Degree MSc
Department Animal and Wildlife Sciences
Advisor Name Title
Mr K A Marnewick Co-Supervisor
Prof W van Hoven Supervisor
  • Makulu Makete Wildlife Reserve
  • wild animals
  • cheetahs
  • South Africa
Date 2011-04-14
Availability unrestricted
The conservation benefits of animals in captivity are limited to education and genetic preservation. However, where species or sub-species are critically endangered, the release of captive bred animals into the wild can be used as a strategy to supplement existing populations or to form new founder populations. Cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus born in captivity have no prior experience of survival in wild circumstances. Captive bred cheetahs are currently the greatest source of individuals. This project worked in conjunction with IUCN reintroduction guidelines and pre-existing recommendations in an attempt to develop an ideal methodology of reintroducing captive bred cheetah into the wild. Three captive bred cheetahs, one female and two males, were reintroduced onto Makulu Makete Wildlife Reserve, a predator proofed reserve in the Limpopo province of South Africa, as part of an experimental rehabilitation project. The cheetahs had to lose their homing instinct, be habituated to researchers, become accustomed to eating venison, chewing skin, infrequent large meals and strength development within the three months spent in the enclosures. The cheetahs were habituated to the field researchers on foot and to research vehicles for ease of monitoring. A soft release methodology was used to ease the cheetahs into the environment. Upon release they were tracked twice daily to observe behavior and interaction with their environment. The duration of the project was 20 months which includes enclosure time.

The establishment of a home range indicated that the resource need of the cheetahs was satisfied. Eight habitat types were identified in the study area and all cheetahs encompassed part of each in their home range. Though the hunting instinct was present in all the cheetahs, the appropriate hunting techniques and prey selection had to be learned overtime. There was no difference between what was stalked and what was caught. From the observed kills, prey weight ranged from small <40 kg to medium <160 kg. This weight range is comparable to wild cheetahs that select prey within the same range. Each cheetah hunted every four to five days and consumed three to five kilograms of meat per day. Nine prey species were identified, two of which were not detected during direct observations. In the collection of scat, the trained dog found approximately a scat per hour while each direct observation by the researchers took approximately 10 hours.

These captive bred cheetahs had to learn how to hunt and how to select appropriate prey thus addressing learned behavior versus instinct. Given the frequency and intensity of injuries sustained and the extensive human influence in the form of veterinary treatment, the reintroduction was not a success. However the techniques developed and modified are relevant for future endeavors‟.

2011, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Maruping, EM 2011, The re-introduction of captive bred cheetah into a wild environment, Makulu Makete Wildlife Reserve, Limpopo province, South Africa, MSc dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-07042011-101546/ >


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