07 Apr Free Roaming Cheetahs at Botlierskop
Botlierskop Game Reserve is giving you an exciting opportunity to spot two free roaming cheetahs during a game drive or horseback safari. During the drive, you will hear the beautiful story about how Ashia Cheetah Conservation gave these cheetahs a second chance to live a free roaming life.
The first male cheetah, named Hobbes, was released on the 3rd of March 2022, followed by his female companion Catja, on the 26th of March 2022. Both Hobbes and Catja spent two years in rehabilitation at Ashia Cheetah Conservation in Paarl after obtaining injuries while hunting, and they developed a strong bond. Dr Willem Burger, from the African Wildlife Conservation Foundation and the Ashia team will monitor their reintroduction to the wild closely.
In 2020, Hobbes contracted a broken heel bone which is an extremely complicated injury to fix. In the wild, this injury would have effectively been a death sentence for the cat. The Endangered Wildlife Trust contacted Ashia Cheetah Conservation for urgent financial and logistical support. Ashia flew Dr Willem Burger in to dart Hobbes, and give first medical care before he was rushed overnight to Dr Caldwell at Old Chapel Vet Clinic. Dr Caldwell operated on him and fixed the calcaneus with permanent plate and screws. After 6 weeks in the clinic, Hobbes was taken to Ashia for rehabilitation. Although the bone healed very well, Hobbes had lost a lot of muscle power and needed to build up strength to slowly start to walk and run again. It was during this time at Ashia, that Hobbes and Catja formed their friendship.
Catja was actually one of the first cheetah to be released from captivity as part of Ashia’s Release and Reintroduction Program in 2018. During this time, she gave birth to a litter of 4 boys in one of the pre-release hunting sections. She turned out to be one of the best mothers they had seen, caring, and hunting well for her new litter. In March 2020, she also injured herself during a hunt where a sharp stick or horn penetrated a ligament in her hind leg and she was relocated to the Old Chapel Veterinary Clinic in Pretoria. She had to undergo 5 surgeries with Dr Peter Caldwell and spent 8 months in the clinic before she could be transferred to Ashia. The staff at Ashia worked with her as often as possible, and eventually had her running at her usual speed in the centre’s exercise ring.
Plans were put in place to relocate her to Botlierskop Private Game Reserve to join her close friend, Hobbes, and hopefully start a new cheetah population at Botlierskop.
Catja’s release was incredible, and she immediately showed that she is destined to become a game-drive favourite! Within seconds she raced up the hill chasing after some Bontebok, and within two days of her release, she was already hunting for herself! A truly heart-warming story of two cheetahs and their journeys back to a life in the wild.
This could not have been possible without Ashia Cheetah Conservation, the Old Chapel Vet Clinic and the African Wildlife Conservation Foundation. We are so grateful for the amazing conservation work they do and for having the opportunity to be involved and partnered with them.