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First wild cheetahs born in FS in century

Save China’s Tigers (SCT) and the Laohu Valley Reserve announced the birth of three wild cheetah cubs in this reserve an hour and a half southwest of Bloemfontein.

The reserve’s three adult cheetahs are the only free-ranging cheetahs in the Free State, making the three new cubs the first cheetahs born in the wild since their disappearance from the province in well over a century.

Cheetahs are red-listed as vulnerable.

“We are delighted about this affirmation of an important part of our mission that includes the decade-long restoration of lands and indigenous flora and fauna of the Laohu Valley Reserve,” said Stuart Bray, co-founder of SCT.

In 2013, in a special partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, two male cheetahs were provided to the reserve, followed by a female in early 2016.

“We are glad Laohu provided the necessary safe space for cheetah conservation efforts,” said Vincent van der Merwe of the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Laohu Valley Reserve is one of the largest privately-owned protected areas in South Africa. It is situated between Philippolis and Colesberg.

While principally focused on the endangered South China tigers prior to reintroduction to protected reserves in China, the project involves the ambitious restoration of the reserve’s 33 000 ha of habitat in an effort to restore the environment to its natural state.

This has included removing over 350 km of internal fences, surplus farm buildings, clearing traps and poisons and exotic flora as well as a substantial increase in several ungulate species through selected reintroduction and natural species recovery.

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