Cheetahs raised in Carrie by Carrie Symonds’ charity have been released into the wilds of South Africa as a world first
Some have questioned their methods and whether animals can really learn to be wild after growing up in Kent cuddling and killing rabbits.
Mr Johnson said in 2019 that he is supportive of the project, stating, “There are many people who question and even disapprove of this ambition. You can find academic literature tormenting the consequences of returning animals to nature: diseases, caused by their contact with humans, defective genes from the zoo, difficulty coping with life and death in the savannah as opposed to a Kentish lawn.
“I don’t want to argue with the experts, but I wish the Aspinall Foundation every success and I’m sure they are doing the right thing.”
At least in the case of Saba and Nairo, the prime minister seems to be right. The two have passed their 12-month “training camp”, first at Ashia Cheetah Conservation just outside Cape Town and later in a 741 hectare training camp in Mount Camdeboo Private Reserve.
Their benefactors argue that they are now “fully self-sufficient hunters” and can easily defeat large game such as kudu and blesbok.
On February 17, 2021, the Aspinall Foundation team released Saba and Nairo from their training camp to the main reserve on Mount Camdeboo: an 8,000-hectare reserve, in which the Aspinall Foundation and Mount Camdeboo teams discreetly use satellite and telemetry – Tracking collars are monitored as they explore their new home. There they will hunt independently, meet women and, when nature takes its course, their valuable genetics contribute to the metapopulation of the South African cheetahs.
Damian Aspinall, Chairman of the Aspinall Foundation, commented, “This is an incredible achievement for the Aspinall Foundation, Mount Camdeboo and Ashia Cheetah Conservation. Many doubted this groundbreaking project was possible, but together we have definitely proven that captive-born cheetahs can be successfully rebuilt. We are already working with other organizations to replicate this incredible project and resuscitate more cheetahs in Africa, bringing valuable new genetics to the local people and bringing these stunning cats back to their ancestral homelands. “