Banner newborn Rhino

English Afrikaans Arabic Chinese (Simplified) French German Italian Japanese Portuguese Russian Spanish

Running Free

WRITTEN BY // Claudia Hauter CATEGORIES // Capecheetah-blog | Inverdoorn-blog

Releasing the Cheetahs

Running Free

For the longest time there has been talk of releasing the wild cheetahs at Inverdoorn. It is something which the whole team has longed and hoped for, but it is a delicate process. Having been brought from different countries and often rescued from dire circumstances, it is integral that the cheetahs be properly rehabilitated before being released. That day has finally come and two of the wild cheetahs from the Western Cape Cheetah Conservation (WCCC) have been released into the main part of the reserve.

One male and one female were selected for the release. "Her we chose, because she is the most solitary of the group, which is good for the females," Leah Brousse tells me. In the wild, female cheetahs are solitary, and this girl looks more than happy to be out on her own on the reserve. Judging from her scrappy-looking ears, she's quite the feisty cheetah and has seen her fair share of cat fights. "The male we chose, because he has a strong personality," Leah adds. Deciding on a male and female, as you can guess, has been done in the hope that they will mate. We have yet to see what happens in future, but for now they are enjoying their new-found freedom.

Naturally, one of the first joys of their release was several successful hunts. The female was the first to make a kill. Wandering to the Lechwe Dam, she came upon a herd of Red lechwe. As semi-aquatic antelope, this is where you are most likely to find them, and why it was given the name it has. All the cheetah saw was a smorgasbord of delicious meat. But it was not just a matter of bringing cheetahs to Inverdoorn, letting them lounge around the cheetah camp and then releasing them. For those of you who have visited Inverdoorn and followed our social media, you will be aware of the breeding programmes and running exercises. The runs give the cheetah plenty of exercise and hone their hunting skills. The team at WCCC is satisfied to see how well these have paid off. Shortly after the Red lechwe kill, the male took down a black springbok; the female killed a duiker and a few more springboks have made a great meal for these cheetahs.

The handlers and rangers are tracking the cheetahs every day to monitor their progress. Leah took me along last week, as she went on one of her routine tracks. This usually entails getting up before the break of dawn to search for them and again later in the day. As we bounced along the well-beaten track within the reserve, Leah spoke to me about the cheetahs and how they are adapting. It is clearly visible how excited she is and as always she speaks with great passion about her work. Almost immediately we came upon the male. With the sun beating down, he was taking it easy beneath the shade.

Leah and I climbed out of the bakkie (or pick-up truck for those of you still learning your SA lingo) and slowly approached him. Suddenly he sprang up and lurched towards us. My heart leapt and chased thrills down my spine, but I remained rooted to the spot. Running would have been monumentally useless and I had Leah by my side, whom I trust completely with the cheetahs. She turned to me and said, "He probably thinks we have food for him, but maybe you should get back in the car." We carried on and found the female perched on a koppie, also enjoying the shade, while at the same time keeping careful watch on her fresh springbok kill.

The release procedure was undertaken with a lot of care, but luckily it was a straightforward process. "We chose the cats from their character, the ones that are going to do the best. Alex [Lewis, Inverdoorn's veterinarian] came, he darted them, we chose a good spot close to water and shade; they wake up and now we monitor them. The release went perfectly, better than we imagined." Now comes the more challenging part: tracking them every day, making sure they stay healthy, adapt well and continue to thrive. The tracking has major bonuses too: like the day Leah saw the female come across the elephants. Needless to say the cheetah was fascinated, but incredibly cautious, about these giants crossing her path.

Although the elephants and buffaloes are not animals for the cheetah to contend with, the big cat is now at the top of the food chain in the main part of the reserve. In the future, the WCCC hopes to release more cheetahs; but for now they will be focusing on the breeding camp and preparing the other wild cheetahs for release so that they can adapt as well as the other two have. Another conservation milestone has been reached at Inverdoorn and the WCCC. It has been a long road and the end is not near. But this has proved, yet again, that no matter how difficult the battle, it is not impossible to protect wildlife and give them the best possible life we can.




About the author

Claudia Hauter

Claudia Hauter

Taught from a young age to save the planet and driven by a love of the environment, Claudia Hauter now writes and manages social media for Inverdoorn Game Reserve, Western Cape Cheetah Conservation and RhinoProtect – hoping to do her part in saving this little planet we call home.

Reservations & Info

Inverdoorn Game Reserve


112 LOOP STREET 8001

Tel:  +27 (0)214 220 013
Fax: +27 (0)86 719 71 50


Meet The Team

  • Meeting the Volunteers: Marion Sabatié

    Meeting the Volunteers: Marion Sabatié

    With her boundless energy and a permanent twinkle in her eye, Marion Sabatié reminds me of a mischievous pixie. I was with her when she first arrived at Inverdoorn and her nervous,...

  • Focus on: Cache Chetty

    Focus on: Cache Chetty

    Meet Cache Chetty (23), reservation agent at Inverdoorn Game Reserve. Today we place FOCUS ON the unsung heroes that make Inverdoorn a great success: Cache loves communication and is...

  • Meet the team: Baptiste Rezé

    Meet the team: Baptiste Rezé

    The staff at Inverdoorn has unique and diverse personalities but one thing that brings and keeps them together is the love and passion they have for wildlife and conservation. Baptiste...

  • Meeting the Volunteers: Cynthia Knuppe

    Meeting the Volunteers: Cynthia Knuppe

    The lodge is abuzz with activity, and not only because it’s summer season. The other reason for all the energy coursing through the reserve is the interns and volunteers. I have never...

Keep up to Date

For all the latest news about your favourite animals at Inverdoorn like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest news and blog posts about the cheetahs, the rhinos, the lions and all the other animals that live on the reserve. Read about the people who look after them and have dedicated their lives to wildlife and its conservation.

Share Your View

Did you enjoy your trip to Inverdoorn? Submit a review to Trip Advisor or send us a review via our website. We want to hear all about your trip: what you liked, what you saw, the best parts and any suggestions and ideas for how we can improve the experience for YOU are also welcome. You can read what others have said about us by checking out some of the articles and press releases or chat to other guests on Trip Advisor. You can even join our Inverdoorn Community and stay in touch with our rangers, animal handlers and other guests.

Contact Infos

Inverdoorn Game Reserve

112 LOOP STREET 8001

Tel:  +27 (0)214 220 013
Fax: +27 (0)86 719 7150


footer map inverdoorn