Thaki is a female cheetah that used to inhabit a farming area in Botswana, where local communities depend on livestock for a living. Lured by the proximity of cattle, cheetahs like Thaki sometimes feed on the livestock and, in doing so, hinder farmers’ livelihoods. Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) works closely with farmers to help them protect their livestock from predators, but tensions between local people and wildlife can still run high. One Sunday afternoon, CCB received an urgent phone call from the operator of the local Thakadu Bush Camp & Game Farm with the news that a cheetah had been caught in a snare. CCB immediately came to the aid of the cheetah and named her Thaki, after the staff of Thakadu.
Thaki recovered quickly from her injuries. However, her re-release into the wild brought additional challanges. She needed to be released in a spot where she would no longer threaten livestock. When choosing new sites for cheetah relocation, CCB must evaluate a number of factors. First, they had to verify Thaki would have enough water and a healthy population of natural prey that she could feed on. Also, it was important to evaluate the presence of other large animals that could potentially hurt Thaki, such as lions or leopards. They also had to be careful not to locate Thaki near any livestock to avoid further attacks.
After a week of careful planning, the team found a place for Thaki with abundant food and water. It was located around forty-nine miles away from the nearest livestock. The CCB team felt confident that Thaki would adapt successfully to her new environment. In order to monitor her activity, she was collared with a GPS device that to help keep track of her movements.
Eighteen days after the release, the team was able to monitor Thaki’s activity and found that she had traveled nearly 125 miles already but hadn’t yet threatened any livestock. They will keep monitoring to look for changes in her behavior and to see if she finds a place to settle. Thanks to her rescue and relocation, Thaki has the potential to live a long and happy life.
This is one of many efforts that our partner CCB makes to help cheetahs in Botswana. You can support CCB’s efforts to help farmers and cheetahs to coexist.