With Oprah on safari in the Serengeti and peak season for seeing the Great Wildebeest Migration, African wildlife is certainly trending right now. One unique case of wildlife news in Africa is Nala, a rescued baby cheetah, in a beautiful corner of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Great Karoo at the Samara Private Game Reserve.
In the middle of June, a tiny little cheetah cub was born to Bellini, one of the wild cheetah females at Samara. However, none of Bellini’s cubs had survived before, so it was understandable that she decided to hide her new cub under a bush very close to Samara’s Karoo Lodge, where she knew that humans would find her.
Like most game reserves in Africa, the policy at Samara is to leave nature to its own devices. But in this instance, the staff at Karoo Lodge was moved with emotion when she mewed with hunger as her mother had abandoned her, and agreed to take her into their homes, feeding her every one and a half hours through day and night. They named her Nala, meaning ‘hope’ and now at six weeks old, she appears to be thriving.
“Only one in five cheetah cubs are female, so we felt it extremely important to protect her. When she is old enough, she will be rehabilitated and released back into the wild to lead what we hope will be a long and productive life. Cheetahs are an endangered species and much of the conservation work here at Samara aims to build their numbers so that these magnificent creatures can be released again into the wild and reign again in the Great Karoo of South Africa,” explains Sarah Tompkins, co-owner of the Samara Private Game Reserve with her husband, Mark.
Besides being one of the most gorgeous animals on the planet, cheetahs have been around for a long time. Cheetah fossils go back some two to five million years, putting them in the Pliocene Era. They have a history of close associations with humankind and were trained by man for hunting as long ago as 3,000 BC. However, in the early 1970s, conservationists reported that the cheetah was slipping towards extinction, together with some other species of wild animals in Africa, mainly due to the destruction of their habitat as a result of farming practices. Attempts to ensure the survival of the cheetah developed spontaneously into two broad fields of activity: one to conserve the free-ranging population and the other to breed cheetahs in captivity. Samara’s main objective is the former.
About Samara Game Reserve
Stunning natural beauty beyond words, is how award-winning Samara Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape is best described.
Two distinct lodges and a private 1920s home (depicted in photo above) at Samara Game Reserve provide luxury accommodation nestled between an amphitheater of mountains on 70,000 acres, where wildlife roams again. Samara Game Reserve offers up close African animal encounters and luxury accommodations in the Graaff-Reinet region of the Eastern Cape.
Photos courtesy of Samara Game Reserve