Meet the first ever cheetahs in our Rewilding Project

Meet the first ever cheetahs in our Rewilding Project

The first two cheetahs have arrived at Nyosi Wildlife Reserve!

Dubbed “the Kalahari siblings”, the brother and sister duo are beautiful and full of character but were separated from their mother at an early stage. They are now regaining their fitness and learning how to catch their own food.

We’re currently monitoring them around the clock, which can be challenging as they are very active and move large distances, but we love following their movements and seeing what they’re getting up to! Luckily, they are fitted with tracking devices which help us record their movements when they’re difficult to spot.

The arrival of these two cheetahs marks the start of our Cheetah Rewilding Project, an ambitious project to rewild as many captive cheetahs as possible while empowering community members. This is part of our larger vision to create a direct link of mutual benefit between endangered wildlife and local communities in southern Africa.

Following their three-month quarantine period and a 15-hour overnight journey by road, the young cheetahs have made great strides since arriving at the reserve, where they spent their first few weeks in a spacious enclosure. During this time, a local wildlife veterinarian fitted their tracking collars so that our conservation team can monitor their movements and activity. They have adapted well and are now thriving in their new home after being released from their spacious enclosure after three weeks. Our conservation team was delighted that they caught their own food within three days – a fully-grown Red Hartebeest!

They are monitored daily, and should they not catch their own food for a period of three days, we will provide food for them as they regain their fitness and hone their hunting skills. Although not captive-born cheetahs, the decision was made to enrol them in our Cheetah Rewilding Program as they were separated from their mother, and we want to ensure their readiness for translocation to a large reserve where there might be other predators. Because they are wild-born, we expect their rewilding phase to be under six months.

We plan to rehome them during the first quarter of 2023, with each cat going to separate reserves. This is important to prevent inbreeding and maintain the genetic diversity of this endangered species.

Stay tuned via social media and our website blog for further updates on the Kalahari siblings and the arrival of our first captive cheetah.

Additional information:

How to support our Cheetah Rewilding Project

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Meet the first ever cheetahs in our Rewilding Project

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The first two cheetahs have arrived at Nyosi Wildlife Reserve!Dubbed “the Kalahari siblings”, the brother and sister duo are beautiful and full of character but were separated from their mother at an early stage. They are now regaining their fitness and learning how...

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CCFA celebrating Children’s Day 2020

CCFA celebrating Children’s Day 2020

The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, by the UN General Assembly, was announced on November 20, 1959 which is why Children’s Day in celebrated annually on this day. It is to honour the children of the world – our hope for the future and leaders of tomorrow.
This Children’s Day we’d like to salute all children but particularly the conservation warriors who are helping us build a better future

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Cheetah Conservation Challenges

Cheetah Conservation Challenges

Why are cheetahs threatened?

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals, capable of reaching speeds up to 70 miles per hour (113 kilometres per hour). However, their speed is not enough to save them from the threats they face.

Cheetahs are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This means that they are at a high risk of extinction in the wild. It is estimated that there were around 100,000 cheetahs globally in 1900, but they have since been driven out of 89% of their historic range. While there were perhaps 40,000 wild cheetahs in 1960, there were reportedly fewer than 20,000 by 1975. Today there are only about 7,100 cheetahs left in the world.

The main causes of this decline are:

  • Loss and fragmentation of habitat due to agriculture and urbanization
  • Segregation of the cheetah population into 29 sub-populations which compromised their genetic integrity
  • The escalation of conflict between cheetahs and humans, particularly in livestock farming regions, leading to further persecution of the species
  • Inadequate protection measures. Many conservationists believe the conservation status for cheetahs is insufficient and are calling for cheetahs to be uplisted to ‘endangered’ which will afford them better protection measures
  • The illegal breeding of cheetahs for the exotic pet trade has further compromised their genetic integrity

Of the 7,100 cheetahs remaining in the world, it is estimated that between 1,166 and 1,742 cheetahs live in South Africa, with about 600 of these in captivity. Some of these captive cheetahs are managed for release into protected areas where they can integrate with free-roaming populations and help diversify the gene pool of the cheetah metapopulation. Cheetah reintroductions and relocations are coordinated by the Metapopulation Initiative to increase the cheetahs’ resident range and improve their genetic and demographic status. Our Cheetah Rewilding Project contributes to the success of the cheetah metapopulation, serving as an intermediate phase for captive cats to learn how to become self-sufficient and ‘bush-savvy’ for life in the wild.

Additional information:

How to support our Cheetah Rewilding Project

Related Posts

Meet the first ever cheetahs in our Rewilding Project

Meet the first ever cheetahs in our Rewilding Project

The first two cheetahs have arrived at Nyosi Wildlife Reserve!Dubbed “the Kalahari siblings”, the brother and sister duo are beautiful and full of character but were separated from their mother at an early stage. They are now regaining their fitness and learning how...

read more
Cheetah Conservation Challenges

Cheetah Conservation Challenges

Why are cheetahs threatened?Cheetahs are the world's fastest land animals, capable of reaching speeds up to 70 miles per hour (113 kilometres per hour). However, their speed is not enough to save them from the threats they face. Cheetahs are listed as vulnerable by...

read more
CCFA celebrating Children’s Day 2020

CCFA celebrating Children’s Day 2020

The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, by the UN General Assembly, was announced on November 20, 1959 which is why Children’s Day in celebrated annually on this day. It is to honour the children of the world – our hope for the future and leaders of tomorrow.
This Children’s Day we’d like to salute all children but particularly the conservation warriors who are helping us build a better future

read more

CCFA wishing you a Bee-utiful festive season.

CCFA wishing you a Bee-utiful festive season.

No bees, no honey, no work, no money

What a year it has been!  However, despite the global pandemic we are particularly proud of our busy little bees which have been hard at work producing honey at our Beehive projects. These projects have not only created and sustained 12 jobs but the sale of the honey has sustained communities and raised much needed funds.

Nature truly is wonderful.  So, to help sweeten things up this holiday season and as a way of thanking you for being the ‘bees knees’ in your support of CCFA,  we’re sharing some of the over 350kgs of honey harvested this year.

The CCFA team wishes you peace, joy and prosperity throughout the coming year. Thank you for your continued support and partnership. We look forward to working with you in the years to come.

Highlights of 2020 and Goals for 2021

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Meet the first ever cheetahs in our Rewilding Project

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read more
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read more
CCFA celebrating Children’s Day 2020

CCFA celebrating Children’s Day 2020

The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, by the UN General Assembly, was announced on November 20, 1959 which is why Children’s Day in celebrated annually on this day. It is to honour the children of the world – our hope for the future and leaders of tomorrow.
This Children’s Day we’d like to salute all children but particularly the conservation warriors who are helping us build a better future

read more

Naming of our CCFA Turtle Mascots

Naming of our CCFA Turtle Mascots

CCFA Turtle Mascots

Sea turtles—even at diminished population levels—play an important role in ocean ecosystems by maintaining healthy seagrass beds and coral reefs, providing key habitat for other marine life, helping to balance marine food webs and facilitating nutrient cycling from water to land.

We are as passionate about turtles, as we are about all wildlife, which is why we have designed a turtle mascot to add to our collection of rhino, elephants, bongos and gorillas.

Sea turtles are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems. They help maintain the health of sea grass beds and coral reefs that benefit commercially valuable species such as shrimp, lobster, and tuna. Sea turtles are the live representatives of a group of reptiles that have existed on Earth and travelled our seas for the last 100 million years. Turtles have major cultural significance and tourism value. Five of the seven species are found around the world, mainly in tropical and subtropical waters. The remaining two species though, have relatively restricted ranges: Oliver Ridley is found mainly in the Gulf of Mexico and the flatback turtle around northern Australia and southern Papua New Guinea.

Over the last 200 years, human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture—known as bycatch—in fishing gear. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites; it alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven existing species being critically endangered.

To honour these beautiful and important creatures, we decided to name our mascots after the fictional Ninja Turtles. We did this because not only are the names fun and quirky but they are well known and loved and all named after important painters, inventors, engineers, sculptors and architects.

 

 

Let’s introduce you to Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo – our Ninja collection – as well as Oliver Ridley (who didn’t need a new name because we liked the name it was born with).

Leonardo (nicknamed Leo) is the oldest and most mature of the NinjaTurtles. This tactical,  level-headed, quiet, courageous leader wears a blue mask and wields two swords. He was named after the Italian polymath, painter, engineer, inventor, writer, anatomist and sculptor, Leonardo da Vinci and is the name we have given to the Loggerhead turtle.  

Loggerheads have large heads that support powerful jaw muscles, allowing them to crush hard-shelled prey like clams and sea urchins. They are less likely to be hunted for their meat or shell compared to other sea turtles.  Loggerheads are the most common turtle in the Mediterranean, nesting on beaches from Greece and Turkey to Israel and Libya.

Donatello (Donnie or Don) is a scientist, inventor, engineer and technological genius who wears a purple mask and wields a staff.   He is the least violent turtle, preferring to use his knowledge to solve conflicts but never hesitates to defend his brothers. He is named after the early Renaissance Italian artist and sculptor from Florence, Donatello and represents the Hawksbill turtle, so named for their narrow, pointed beak. They also have a distinctive pattern of overlapping scales on their shells that form a serrated-look on the edges. These coloured and patterned shells make them highly-valuable and commonly sold as ‘tortoiseshell’ in markets.

Hawksbills are found mainly throughout the world’s tropical oceans, predominantly in coral reefs. They feed mainly on sponges by using their narrow pointed beaks to extract them from crevices on the reef, but also eat sea anemones and jellyfish.

Michelangelo (Mikey or Mike) is the stereotypical teenager of the team: Free-spirited, relaxed, goofy, mischievous a jokester known for his love of pizza and kind-hearted nature. Michelangelo wears an orange mask and is named after the Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer.  He also represents the green turtle – one of the largest sea turtles and the only herbivore among the different species.

Green turtles are in fact named for the greenish colour of their cartilage and fat, not their shells. Like other sea turtles, they migrate long distances between feeding grounds and the beaches from where they hatched. Classified as endangered, green turtles are threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites.

Olive Ridley Turtle – The name for this sea turtle is tied to the colour of its shell -an olive green hue. They are currently the most abundant of all sea turtles. Their vulnerable status comes from the fact that they nest in a very small number of places, and therefore any disturbance to even one nest beach could have huge repercussions on the entire population.

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read more
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Cheetah Conservation Challenges

Why are cheetahs threatened?Cheetahs are the world's fastest land animals, capable of reaching speeds up to 70 miles per hour (113 kilometres per hour). However, their speed is not enough to save them from the threats they face. Cheetahs are listed as vulnerable by...

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CCFA wishing you a Bee-utiful festive season.

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read more

Naming of CCFA Gorilla Mascots

Naming of CCFA Gorilla Mascots

Kwita Izina  – to give a name

CCFA Gorilla Plush Toys Receive Honourable Names

If you’ve been lucky enough to stay at one of the Mantis Accor luxury lodges, you might’ve enjoyed a cuddle from a gorilla, in the comfort of your room. These gorillas are the kind that fit onto your bed and can even be ‘adopted’ and taken home with you. They’ve each been given names that pay homage to the gorillas who roam free in Rwanda as well as Uganda, thanks to the efforts of the CCFA supported CTPH (Conservation Through Public Health) programme.

In honour of the work that the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International carries out in Rwanda, we have chosen to name some of our CCFA plush toys after the gorillas named in the traditional Kwita Izina naming ceremony, in Rwanda each year.  The Kwita Izina ceremony is based on a Rwandan cultural practice for naming human infants.

Historically, the Kwita Izina (for gorillas) was introduced in the 1960s by researchers that were led by Dian Fossey, founder of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Gorillas were given names for study purposes; to accurately track and monitor these giants in the jungle in Volcanoes National Park. In 2005 Kwita Izina was established as an official Rwandan event. Rwandan and international conservationists, sports personalities, renowned philanthropists and diplomats are invited to name the gorillas under protection by the Fund.

 Irebero

CCFA founder, Adrian Gardiner, was invited by the Rwanda Development Board, to name a gorilla at Kwita Izina, in September 2019, in honour of his lifelong commitment to conservation. The ceremony was a memorable experience for Adrian, who feels as though he has gained another child.

The 13th Kwita Izina was themed “conservation for life” and who better to be invited to name a gorilla than Adrian himself.  Dressed in Rwandan traditional attire, Adrian addressed a crowd of a few hundred people and announced his name of his young gorilla, Irebero, who was born in April 2018.

Irebero which means “symbol” has four siblings already and is the infant to the famous Mahane, one of the remaining gorillas born while Dian Fossey was alive.

Kanyoni

The CCFA team holds the memory of Kanyoni close to heart. Kanyoni was like a family member to the Conservation Through Public Health Programme team, which CCFA financially supports. The CTPH programme educates communities in Uganda by exploring ways in which they can live in harmony with the gorillas.

TUSK finalist in the 2019 conservation Tusk awards and CTPH team member, Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, who works closely with the gorillas, says Kanyoni was her favourite gorilla. Gladys is dedicated to researching and protecting the gorillas; it is her life’s work and she holds these mountain giants close to her heart.

Kanyonyi was a living testament to the achievements of gorilla conservation efforts at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. During Kanyonyi’s five year tenure as lead silverback of the Mubare Gorilla Group, he kept the group united and enabled it to thrive and grow, through attracting numerous females.

Kanyonyi’s lineage called for him to step up as lead silverback of the Mubare Gorilla Group in 2012 (the first group habituated for tourism at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in 1992), after his father Ruhondeza, passed away. When Ruhondeza passed, the Bwindi community came to pay their last respects to Ruhondeza, signifying the improvement in their relationship with park management, while also demonstrating the dynamic of their relationship with the mountain gorillas – one of value and respect.

Tragically Kanyonyi fell off a tree and developed an infection in his hip joint. Following this injury, he became embroiled in a fight with a lone silver gorilla that wanted to take over his group. Kanyoni never fully recovered from these incidents and died in December 2017.

 Beetsme

This adult male gorilla acquired his name when Dian Fossey was asked about his identity and, seeing him for the first time, replied “Beat’s me!”

Beetsme remains unique as the only known case of an adult male gorilla joining a breeding group (unknown males are not tolerated because of high competition among males for females.) In fact, for a time researchers thought he was a newly acquired female. One researcher noted early on that “this female sure does chest-beat like a male.” His true gender was determined when he began to grow and develop a silver back. While in Group 4, Beetsme played a largely peripheral role, perhaps to avoid aggression from other males in the group. He has illustrated the importance of not only male-female relationships, but also bonds between males. Beetsme has also informed one piece of the life-history puzzle of mountain gorillas: longevity. He was first observed as a blackback (10 years old), and though his exact age remains unknown, it’s estimated that Beetsme was about 36 years old when he died.

Poppy

Poppy was born into Fossey’s Group 5 on April Fools’ Day in 1976. It was an auspicious birthday for the playful young gorilla, who was full of personality. Poppy, the oldest known gorilla, was born in a group of gorillas studied by Dian Fossey and stayed in that group until November 1985, just a few weeks before Fossey was killed.

Fossey wrote about Poppy many times in her journals, calling her the group’s “little darling … winsome and appealing. She could do no wrong.” Poppy was a member of one of the mountain gorillas’ ‘royal families’. Her mother, Effie, was the legendary matriarch of a family whose members are spread across many gorilla groups in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

In her later years, Poppy moved on to ‘Susa group’ where she quickly rose in status among the females, reaching the top level of dominance. She gave birth to many infants and stayed in the same group for years. She then split from the Susa group to join another. In August 2018, Poppy was part of Lyambere’s group during a stressful period that caused the group to travel quickly over long distances and enter into deep ravines. When the group was clearly seen again, Poppy was not with them. Despite a long search, she has never been seen again.

 Cantsbee

 Before his passing in 2017, Cantsbee was the last surviving silverback that Fossey knew. At 38 years old, he set the record as the oldest silverback The Fossey Fund has monitored from birth. Cantsbee also holds the record for longest reign of dominance the Fossey Fund has ever observed, serving about 21 years as dominant silverback for Pablo’s group. During his long reign, Cantsbee led the largest gorilla group recorded with 65 individuals in 2006 – a third record for this impressive historic gorilla.

Along with being a strong leader, Cantsbee was known as an active and responsible father. Fossey Fund President and CEO Tara Stoinski, Ph.D., remembers seeing Cantsbee “babysit” five or six infants at a time while their mothers were off foraging.

Naming of CCFA Elephant Mascots

Naming of CCFA Elephant Mascots

THE PERSONALITY BEHIND THEIR NAMES

CCFA has named their elephant mascots after the majestic animals belonging to the herd saved by the late Lawrence Anthony, an international conservationist, environmentalist, explorer and bestselling author.

In 1999, Lawrence Anthony, also known as  “The Elephant Whisperer”, was contacted by an animal manager to offer him a herd of elephants at no cost. He suspected there was more to the story. As it turned out the elephant herd was an aggressive bunch that had become more than the owners of the reserve wanted to deal with. In fact, they had to shoot two of the elephants that belonged to the herd. The surviving elephants had been more traumatized than ever by the shooting of the elephants, one of which was the matriarch, the herd’s leader. Lawrence was their only hope. If he didn’t take them, they would all be shot.

Mandla

Mandla translates to ‘power’ in Zulu and was the name bestowed upon this 23 year old elephant bull following his break-out from the boma with his herd, soon after their initial arrival at Thula Thula Reserve. ‘Mandla’ honours his endurance and tenacity in keeping up with the rest of the herd, despite his young age.

ET – Enfant Terrible (terrible child)

This 14 year old female elephant was offered a safe sanctuary at the request of EMOA (Elephant Managers and Owners Association), who called them for help after her entire family had been either shot or sold to the hunting trade. ET had also been promised to a trophy hunter because an elephant wouldn’t survive without the protection of its herd. Thula Thula accepted the challenge and opportunity to save an elephant. The traumatised elephant was terrified when she arrived at Thula Thula and hid in the thick bush for some time after arriving in her new home.

Lawrence Anthony kept ET closely under his watch and tried many tricks and psychology techniques to try coax back her confidence. She was extremely sad and withdrawn and so he gave her the name ‘Enfant Terrible’. Eventually, after not making a sound or trumpet since her arrival, an effect of the trauma she had experienced, ET was taken in by the resident herd.

Lawrence Anthony watched in admiration as the local herd of elephants followed him towards the lone elephant. He watched ET come running out to meet the herd, the first of her kind she’d seen in a year. She fell into line, second from the back and linked her trunk around the tail of the elephant in front of her. The elephant behind her, (in Lawrence Anthony’s words), “…was resting his trunk on her back as they moved along. Comforting her. Walt Disney himself could not have scripted a better ending.”

Frankie

Frankie’s protective instincts helped draw little orphan ET out of her depression and to this day, the two of them have a very special bond. Known as the ‘feisty aunt’, Frankie is the herd’s self-appointed guardian. Lawrence Anthony recalls witnessing her delight in breaking away from the rest of the herd and storming past them at full speed, “head held high and glaring fiercely just for the hell of it.”

Mnumzane

Pronounced nom-zahn meaning “sir” in Zulu. At age 15 & 3 ½ tons this elephant arrived at Thula Thula in a “rage” having witnessed his mother (the herd’s previous matriarch) and baby sister being shot to death. Despite his youth he instinctively knew that he must protect his herd. Mnumzane had been demoted from crown prince to pariah after his mother’s demise.
And as is the eons old elephant way (as elephant herds are fiercely feminized) once a male approaches puberty he is evicted, cast away from the ‘inner circle’. From that moment on he would spend the majority of his time either alone or on the periphery of the group. In the wild, evicted males would form loosely knit ‘askari‘ bachelor herds under the guidance of a wise old bull. Unfortunately there was no father figure for Mnumzane but he could stand up for himself and both humans and animals alike knew not to mess with him.