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The cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat. From a count of 100 000 in 1900, the numbers have dropped to under 7 000 in the wild today. Cheetah are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red list due to human-wildlife conflict, poaching, trophy hunting, poorly regulated captive trade and illegal pet trade. The biggest threat however is due to an increasing loss of habitat.
To prevent inbreeding once the animals produce offspring, the Endangered Wildlife Trust established the “Cheetah Meta-Population Project” in 2011 which currently manages around 380 cheetah living in 58 protected areas. Ethical breeding in captivity has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species.
The lions at Kuzuko Lodge have been translocated to the reserve to give them a chance to live and reproduce. Here we share Sylvester’s story:
South Africa was first introduced to Sylvester the lion when he escaped Karoo National Park in June 2015. For three weeks and more than 300km, this big cat went gallivanting around the Karoo – and straight into our hearts.
After his inevitable capture, Sylvester was fitted with a satellite collar. This alerted rangers when he escaped the park yet again in March 2016. Luckily the cat with the itchy feet was recaptured three days later. To stop Sylvester from going walkabout a third time, SANParks decided to translocate him and in May 2016 he arrived in Kuzuko, a private contractual area in Addo Elephant National Park.
Buffalo Breeding Project
The Kuzuko Buffalo are special animals enclosed in their own section of the reserve so as to avoid predation on them form larger carnivores and for our team to be able to monitor them closely. These animals are free of diseases like foot-and-mouth, corridor, brucellosis and bovine TB, and therefore are highly valuable.