As you already know, a little miracle happened at Inverdoorn on the 31st of May: four beautiful cheetah cubs were born. But let's first go back in time.
I started working at Inverdoorn in January last year and six months later I decided to make it my mission to see cheetah cubs born at the reserve. I say mission, because conservationists really struggle to breed cheetahs in captivity, because they are very special when it comes to mating. But that is another story.
So every day I went to the breeding facility to observe the cheetahs and move them around, hoping that one day a little miracle would happen. I remember writing in my diary: "Banzi is stutter barking and trying to mount Lotta." Both were obviously very good signs that the cheetahs were about to mate, but after I got my hopes up a couple of times and got very upset in the end, my philosophy changed to: wait and see.
A few months later, I wrote: "Lotta is acting very weird and doesn't want to come out for her food. She looks huge. I think she might be pregnant." On the 1st of June, Lotta didn't want to come out at all. We started to get worried and I decided to go in and look for her, which wasn't that easy. Lotta is semi-wild and she stays in a big and bushy camp, so looking for her can sometimes take a while and be very exciting.
But it didn't take me too long and I found her underneath a bush, were she had been hiding. I already thought that was quite weird. Annami was standing outside the camp, watching my back. Not thinking anything of it, I fed Lotta and waited until she was finished. When Lotta started walking back I heard a little chirping sound and I remembered something Christo told me about the cub sounds to listen for – like a bird but not quite – if you hear it, you will know. I tried to focus on the sound that kept coming out of the bush Lotta was lying under the whole time.
All of a sudden I saw movement. I can't describe what I felt in that very moment. What followed was an emotional shouting from my side to Annami outside the camp. I really wish I had a video of that conversation.
Later I came back with Wilna to confirm that there were four beautiful cheetah cubs that had been born the previous day. Since then, I go to Lotta about five times per day and spend time with her and her cubs. I am still amazed at how relaxed she is around me. This is definitely one of the best experiences of my whole life, seeing those cheetahs growing up since day one and Lotta sharing those beautiful moments with me. I really can't thank her and Banzi enough for this beautiful present.
It's also amazing to see how the cubs react to my voice. They are still not able to walk, but they are starting to move around on their wobbly legs. As soon as I start talking they will look at me, though they can't see much yet, and try and move towards me. Lotta isn't always too happy about that and will come after them, pick them up and put them back in the corner of the bush. She is becoming more relaxed with it every day though and yesterday they were allowed to come really close until they walked into a bush that was standing in their way and stopped them. I am truly blessed to be able to experience this and see them growing up every day.