Privileged to be home to the highly endangered Cheetah, Samara also hosts a remarkable individual. Born a wild Cheetah, Sibella’s life nearly ended at the hands of hunters. After being savagely treated in captivity, she was fortunate enough to be rescued and underwent life-saving surgery and rehabilitation at the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust.
In December 2003, Sibella started a new chapter in her life when she, along with two males, was released into Samara. Despite suffering the occasional twinge from her previous injuries, Sibella has proved herself to be a capable hunter and has successfully reared 18 cubs in the time she has been at Samara. As such, she epitomises the spirit of Samara as she plays a vital role in the rejuvenation of a once endangered existence. This exceptional cat has now contributed to 2% of the wild Cheetah population in South Africa.
It has been estimated that the last wild Cheetah in the area was seen 125 years ago. Cheetahs were heavily hunted in the Great Karoo and Eastern Cape areas and the Samara Cheetahs made conservation history as the first to return to the area after 125 years.
Part of Sibella’s and Samara’s Cheetah conservation success is the fact that Samara is free of the predator competition found in Big Five reserves. Without the pressure of natural predators such as lion and spotted hyena, the Samara Cheetah populations have been able to thrive.
Samara works closely with the Endangered Wildlife Trust to ensure that this highly endangered species is given the best chance of survival. To this effect Samara swops its Cheetah populations with other reserves, thus ensuring that the gene pool is as wide as possible.
Samara Private Game Reserve, Petersburg Road, off the R63 to Pearston, near Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape, 6280
Photos courtesy of Etienne Ooshuizen, Marolien Marais, Dook, Joy Bromilow as well as Samara Private Game Reserve Guests and Staff. Copyright Applies.