This morning I got to participate in an exciting activity. I think I've mentioned the cheetah Pride before. I know her story is in my book. She was a cub when I first came here as a volunteer in 2007, and she's one of the cheetahs that I spent the night out with.
She's been one of the real success stories here at Harnas. Even though she was hand-raised by humans, she's been released into the Lifeline area to hunt and live free and wild. She's been very successful at hunting, and doesn't rely on people for food anymore--BUT when humans come around, she's still tame enough to come up and lick their faces.
She wears a radio collar and the research team checks up on her every day to make sure she's eating and is okay. Today I got to go out with Erin, a researcher for several projects, including tracking Pride.
First we picked up and then released Max and Moritz, the two tame cheetahs that are on "soft release" these days--meaning they spend days out in the Lifeline area and then come back to their enclosure at night. They're occasionally successful at hunting, but still not quite ready for full time in the wild. This is a picture of me and Max. You can see that I rode in the back of the truck with them to the drop site.
Then we delivered some meat to some African wild dogs for their breakfast. Awesome creatures.
Then we started to track Pride through her radio collar. We started holding the antennae out where she was last located and then moved out from there. It took over an hour to get our first "beep" on the radio, signaling that she was near. We kept driving and narrowing the search until we had a more specific area. Then we started walking through the bush, holding out the antennae and looking.
Finally one of the two volunteers spotted her under a tree. She had been hunting and had a small impala that she was eating. I'll spare you a picture of that.
She's an amazing cat--to be able to live and hunt freely--and still interact peacefully with humans--and all her instincts still intact! What a girl. She certainly fits her name.