Source: EWT Press Release | Jan 2024
In 2017, cheetahs were returned to Malawi after a 20-year absence by @africanparksnetwork, EWT, and Malawi’s Department of Parks and Wildlife. Now, six years later, 48 cheetah cubs have been born in Liwonde National Park and their population is thriving!
This success has allowed Liwonde to act as a source population – donating individuals of dispersing age to new reintroduction sites in Malawi and Mozambique. However, managing the genetics and demographics of a closed population makes this work an ongoing process.
In December 2023, after months of planning, a massive collaborative effort set out to achieve just this - EWT Cheetah Relocation. Thanks to The Bateleurs @flyingfortheenvironment piloted on this occasion by Bateleur @mercyair.africa David Schumacher, our team took to the skies to bring two new females to Malawi and, in a first for the cheetah metapopulation, translocate three males back to South Africa.
While introducing the females will diversify the population genetics for Liwonde, removing the males will mimic territorial changes and further reduce the risk of inbreeding. Their donation to @greatermakalalinaturereserve by Liwonde is also a significant step in rebuilding a cheetah population in South Africa – the original source for Malawi’s growing population.
This success would not be possible without African Parks ongoing restoration work in Malawi and the cheetah conservation efforts of @manyoniprivategamereserve and @tswalu and, their subsequent donation of these cheetahs to this important project. We also thank @spirit_foundation_sa for providing use of their holding facilities, @wildlifevets.com_sa and @africanwildlifevets for providing veterinary support to this project, @lilongwewildlifetrust for their assistance with permits and post-release monitoring and @hardus.v_wildfilm for documenting this important work - keep an eye out for some upcoming short films!
The EWT’s Cheetah Range Expansion Project helps manage Africa’s cheetah metapopulation through translocations that promote source-sink dynamics and gene flow. It also undertakes reintroductions, thus re-establishing this charismatic species to its historical range. As always, our relocations are undertaken in conjunction with the Cheetah Advisory Group and our work would not be possible without the dedicated teams on the reserves who create safe space for cheetahs to roam.