Friday, 18 November 2011

Nestle: Born and Died a Free Cat

We received the sad news from Erindi Game Reserve two days ago that Nestle, one of the chocolate sisters we helped release into Erindi was found dead. As of yet the cause of death is unknown, although as a wild cheetah there are numerous possibilities. She could have been killed by lions, snake bite, illness or sustained a fatal injury whilst hunting.

This was of course tough news to hear especially as we were responsible for looking after her during our two and half years at CCF and were part of the team that watched her and her sisters take their first steps back to the wild.
Nestle and her siblings Toblerone, Hershey, Lindt and Cadbury were brought to CCF in February 2003 when they were only eight months old after they, but not their mother was trapped on a farm near Otavi. Therefore the mother was suspected to have been shot. Lindt and Cadbury were released into the NamibRand Reserve in 2008 along with three other males. The chocolate sisters spent most of their time at CCF in the Bellebenno cheetah camp and they along with their adopted sister Chanel were chosen to be released back to the wild as part of a rehabilitation project last year.

Nestle could probably have been described as the grumpiest chocolate sister and when approached by people she would usually hunch her shoulders and scowl. Before being fitted with a collar with red tape on the antenna this distinctive posture was a good way of distinguishing her from her sisters! Around a kill she was also the most defensive and would normally be the first one to charge towards whoever approached.
During observation of the coalition in Bellebenno it appeared that Nestle was the ‘lowest ranking’ member and would sometimes be found away from the other three and it remains a possibility that her death may have happened after she had separated from the others.
I’m sure her sisters and Chanel are wondering where she has gone. However, they will adjust and continue on as a trio, and as much as the loss of Nestle saddens Kate and I, we have no regrets. Chanel and the Chocs were released into CCF’s Bellebenno game camp on the 1st of September 2010 and Nestle therefore had just over a year of freedom. Over that time Erindi staff members have taken many people on tracking safari’s to see the four girls and they have been filmed by numerous TV film crews. Therefore, Nestle has helped educate and inspire people and also enjoyed a bit of fame!
The Bellebenno release will always be a highlight of our time in Namibia and we’ll always have a special connection with Chanel and the chocs. RIP Nestle, a life well lived.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bye Bye Boris!

 The 30th of October marked a very important moment for the NCC as it was the day that saw our first cheetah released back to the wild. It was made even more special as it was also the 40th cheetah N/a’an ku se has released.

The cat in question was Boris, the four year old male who was trapped and taken to N/a’an ku se’s wildlife sanctuary in May 2011 after he had been hunting game repeatedly on a small game farm in the Windhoek area. For a complete account of what happened check out the NCC blog.
It was a really great feeling watching him go free and we tracked him yesterday and even got a visual, he looks in really good condition and we suspect he has already made a kill due to his bulging belly. So for Boris, so far so good :)

Here is a great video of the release made by my colleagues at N/a'an ku se, unfortunately I'm in it. In the video you may notice a film crew filming proceedings. They were filming for an Animal Planet documentary series about N/a'an ku se which starts next year in March. The show will be called 'Wild Animal Orphans' so keep an eye out. Kate and I will be featured in the episodes about the NCC, thankfully, for me anyway, in a non-speaking role!