Cheetah Releases

HESC continues to succeed in introducing captive-bred cheetahs into the wild.

About the Release of Captive Bred Cheetahs at HESC

HESC has dedicated 30 years to cheetah conservation, both in research as well as breeding and education about the species.

The centre is one of only two facilities of its kind in South Africa to be CITES accredited.

With less than 7000 cheetahs left in the wild, the cheetah species (Acinonyx jubatus) is listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List, and so it is imperative that conservation organisations continue to focus on the survival of the species through projects such as that monitored cheetah breeding programme at HESC.

Through the years, HESC has tracked and controlled the genetic lineage of every cheetah that has been brought or born at the centre, each having an individual “DNA passport.”

This practice serves to ensure that successful gene diversity is carried out in wild populations, which is also key to the long term success of introducing captive-bred cheetahs into the wild.

Our Objectives for supporting Cheetah Releases

  • To ensure the survival of the cheetah species in the wild.
  • To help fund the process from the time the cheetah is born to the date of its release, which is approximately three years.
  • To track and measure the success of the cheetahs released in the wild.
  • To ensure healthy gene diversity within the various reserves that have been earmarked for a successful cheetah release.
  • To educate the public about the importance of projects such as the Cheetah breeding programme at HESC.
  • Ongoing research that will continue to be built on with each cheetah release into the wild.

The Process of Releasing a Cheetah into the Wild

Phase 1:

The Cheetah is checked by a leading wildlife vet to ensure their health is in excellent condition.

The Cheetah will be released into a sizeable controlled piece of land that will have large open areas of savanna or grassland to hunt without the fear of any other predators on the chosen piece of land.

Their hunting instincts will be monitored by cameras and videos strategically placed as they are introduced to natural prey that will surround them in their new environment.

During this time food rations will be supplied to ensure a gradual integration into hunting and that the cheetah does not go hungry if at first, they are unsuccessful at hunting.

Phase 2:
Only the cheetah proves to be an independent and successful hunter; they will be ready for the second and final stage, which is the introduction to a big-five game reserve.

They will continue to be monitored in the wild with the hope of them reproducing with a wild cheetah and producing cubs with a new gene pool for the area.