‘Captive cheetahs answer call of the wild’ by Martin Welz (Sunday Times, 22 June). ‘Cheetahs, like leopards, don’t change their spots. That was the heartening discovery of a team of the Transvaal Department of Nature Conservation officers who spent three months this year chasing through the Lowveld bush to see how three cheetahs, reared in captivity and then released in the wild, would fare.
‘The story of their adventures in the wild was this week described as a major breakthrough in the programme to ensure the survival of the cheetahs, whose dwindling numbers have been a worry to conservationists for many years.
‘The three cheetahs, who first underwent a month’s ‘basic training’ and acclimatisation in the South African Air Force’s wildlife reserve at Hoedspruit in February, were appropriately named ‘General Rogers’, ‘Gouws’ and ‘Oom Jan’ after their senior airforce hosts.
‘Despite having been reared on a cheetah farm at De Wildt, near Pretoria, they took to the wild like old paws. Adapting from a diet of beef on the hook to venison on the hoof, presented no problems to the three two-year-olds.’