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 Post subject: MZNP: Cheetah Tracking
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 8:39 pm 
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Thought some of you would be interested in this activity at Mountain Zebra National Park which I have not seen posted on forum.


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In an exciting new development, cheetah tracking and guided walk activities have now opened to visitors in Mountain Zebra National Park.

Visitors will be able to join a guide in searching for the elusive Mountain Zebra National Park cheetahs by means of tracking with radio telemetry equipment.

Cheetah were introduced to the Park in 2007 following an absence of over 100 years from the area. The species has adapted very well to the Park, increasing in number from four in 2007 to over 30 animals. A number of cheetah have been rehomed in the last few months to ensure that the integrity of the natural ecosystem balance is not affected.

The new activities include two new guided walks: a three-hour route and a hike up the Salpeterskop to view a chessboard relic from the early 1900s.

Guided walks, cheetah tracking and guided drives are led by fully qualified, knowledgeable guides.

The opening of guided walks follows the closure of all hiking trails in July 2010 following the tragic death of a hiker who was attacked by a buffalo on one of the hiking trails.

The two short walking trails (1-kilometre and 2.5-kilometre trails) are available to visitors as self-walk options, having been enclosed, along with the rest camp area, with electrified fencing.

The three-day hiking trail has yet to re-open but the two mountain cottages, formerly used exclusively as hiking trail huts, are now available as an ideal rustic getaway option for visitors with high clearance vehicles.

The 28 000-hectare Mountain Zebra National Park is situated near Cradock in the Eastern Cape.

In an exciting new development, cheetah tracking and guided walk activities have now opened to visitors in Mountain Zebra National Park.

Visitors will be able to join a guide in searching for the elusive Mountain Zebra National Park cheetahs by means of tracking with radio telemetry equipment.

Cheetah were introduced to the Park in 2007 following an absence of over 100 years from the area. The species has adapted very well to the Park, increasing in number from four in 2007 to over 30 animals. A number of cheetah have been rehomed in the last few months to ensure that the integrity of the natural ecosystem balance is not affected.

The new activities include two new guided walks: a three-hour route and a hike up the Salpeterskop to view a chessboard relic from the early 1900s.

Guided walks, cheetah tracking and guided drives are led by fully-qualified knowledgeable guides.

The opening of guided walks follows the closure of all hiking trails in July 2010 following the tragic death of a hiker who was attacked by a buffalo on one of the hiking trails.

The two short walking trails (one-kilometre and 2.5-kilometre trails) are available to visitors as self-walk options, having been enclosed, along with the rest camp area, with electrified fencing.

The three-day hiking trail has yet to re-open but the two mountain cottages, formerly used exclusively as hiking trail huts, are now available as an ideal rustic getaway option for visitors with high clearance vehicles.

The 28 000-hectare Mountain Zebra National Park is situated near Cradock in the Eastern Cape. Visit http://www.sanparks.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; to find out more.



http://travel.iafrica.com/bulletinboard/721485.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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 Post subject: Re: Walk with cheetahs - MZNP
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:07 pm 
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I think you should change the title foxy, it is misleading.

Walking looking for cheetahs and walking with them - like private parks do - are 2 very different things.

SANP does not keep animals 'on tap', they are free and thus there are no guarantees.

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 Post subject: Re: Walk with cheetahs - MZNP
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:49 pm 
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OK BB, I'll inform iafrica that the heading is misleading. :tongue:


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 Post subject: Re: Walk with cheetahs - MZNP
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:53 pm 
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Thanks, standards of precision and 'honesty' have gone to pot these days. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Walk with cheetahs - MZNP
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:17 pm 
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Just thought I could add a first-hand account to this topic of walking "looking FOR" cheetahs. :P
We recently had this experience at MZNP and it was very special. Although in our case it didn't result in a cheetah encounter on foot, we did find a cheetah and we did have the excitment of tracking another on foot, although he eluded us. For my taste, this is what makes it a "real" experience with wild animals. If you want to be 100% assured of seeing a cheetah, you're in the wrong place - go visit a zoo! Just being out with a guide gives you an opportunity to learn and see so much other stuff that the cheetah sighting becomes almost like a cherry on the top. For more about our experience, see http://bit.ly/qRvv4F


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 Post subject: Re: Walk with cheetahs - MZNP
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:26 pm 
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I also enjoyed this unique experience during my MZNP visit in September. In our case, we found three different cheetah in a quite small area — the overlapping radio signals were a bit confusing at times for our guides, Michael and Richard. I will try to write in more detail — and post some photos — once I've sorted thru my pix, but we were able to get very close to a female named Juba who was very relaxed. It is absolutely amazing to be about 15 meters away from a wild cheetah on foot! :dance: We also saw a big male named White Eye, tho as he was visible from the road we did not leave the vehicle. The third cheetah, a female named Nixi, was found under a bush high up on the side of a koppie and my old legs (and lungs) weren't up to that climb, so I didn't get to see her, but the other three in our group did, albeit still from a distance.

Altogether, this is a fascinating and rewarding activity, highly recommended, and Michael and Richard are superb guides and hosts, entertaining us with lots of interesting information both about the park's cheetahs (I believe that there are only 10, not the 17 that annie R cites in her blog, but I will check with Michael on this) and much else that we encountered during our morning tracking the cheetah.

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 Post subject: Re: Walk with cheetahs - MZNP
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:09 pm 
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:dance:
:popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah tracking in MZNP
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:38 pm 
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Arks, the number of 17 cheetah was given to me by Michael and confirmed by MZNP's communications manager so I assume it must be correct. Maybe one of them will comment on this thread...


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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah tracking in MZNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 2:13 pm 
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WoW, Arks :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Would love to see some of your pictures :popcorn:


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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah tracking in MZNP
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:07 am 
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Annie

Thanks for the feedback. I would love to do such a tracking/walk myself.
Does anybody know what happened to all the other cheetahs?

Originally 4 cheetahs; + 12 cubs (1 died?) + another 12? cubs....? I know they put some in a boma -- where did they go to?

Thanks

Friedrich von Hörsten

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah tracking in MZNP
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 3:29 pm 
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Friedrich, I'd suggest that you might send a PM to Michael Paxton (altho he may be on leave as his first child was due to be born at Christmastime 8) ) and then post the answer you receive here? Altho he is a forumite, Michael rarely finds time to post :( As I posted above, what I remember Michael telling us is that there are only 10 cheetah at MZNP — and most (except the 3 they haven't yet managed to catch!) are also on contraceptives as the park can't support any more.

(reminder to myself to dig out some of my cheetah-tracking pix and post them! :redface: )

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah tracking in MZNP
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:13 pm 
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Arks

Thanks! I dug up old info under the Cheetah thread, and they had MORE than 30 cheetahs by July last year! Seems like they kept 17, and sent the rest all over the country...

``We have moved two cheetah cubs out of the bomas to a new home in an Eastern Cape rehabilitation centre. Another 10 cubs are also waiting to leave the bomas in the next month or so to homes in private game reserves / rehab centres.

Batman and Robin were moved to Kuzuko Contractual area in Addo Elephant National Park earlier this year.

The adult female cheetahs in the bomas will be released back into the Park after they have been contracepted (a dose of contraception lasts for 2 years).

We will eventually release cheetah in Karoo NP but probably only in 2012 when the springbok population has stabilised. We will make this decision after we do the next census in Karoo in Feb 2011.

Any cheetahs that go to Addo will only go into the northern area - Kuzuko or later Darlington (once its been consolidated and completely fenced) as this is the suitable habitat for them''

That means my questions have all been answered -- the cheetah population explosion has been put on hold, and the surplus have been sent away!

Only remaining answer would be when they will be released into Karoo NP...
I am very chuffed to have so many cheetahs closer to home!

God bless for 2012,

Friedrich von Hörsten

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah tracking in MZNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:44 pm 
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Friedrich von Hörsten wrote:
I dug up old info under the Cheetah thread, and they had MORE than 30 cheetahs by July last year! Seems like they kept 17, and sent the rest all over the country...

:thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah tracking in MZNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:10 am 
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Belatedly, a few photos from my morning tracking cheetah at MZNP. This was on 16 September 2011. I was juggling DSLR and videocam and don't have any photos that show the group or how close we actually were to Juba, our first of the three cheetah we found. However, none of these photos (except for the one of Michael and Richard) are cropped at all. All those of Juba are taken with my 75-300mm lens.

First, here are Richard and Michael listening for radio signals.
Image

The first Cheetah we found was Juba and we approached her on foot, eventually getting as close as 20 meters! She was very relaxed, which allowed Michael to let us get this close.
Image

This photo is taken at 75mm (the others are at 300mm), so we really were very close to her!
Image

More close-up portraits of Juba :wink:
Image

Image

Image

We returned to the truck and Michael searched for another signal. In fact he got two, which he and Richard later worked out were overlapping. One was for the big male, White Eye, whom we could clearly see from the truck. In this photo, he's a tiny speck under the large central tree ....
Image
It's a bit easier to see him when I zoom in
Image
and better still at 300mm
Image

Our third cheetah, Nixi, was under a bush high up on this koppie, unfortunately a climb that I really wasn't up to, but the others made the trek and had a glimspe of her. I should have taken a photo of them on the hillside, but only have this one, taken after they'd returned.
Image

Finally, another portrait of Juba
Image

Altogether, MZNP's cheetah tracking was an unforgettable experience, an activity that I can highly recommend and that I'd definitely do again, should I have the opportunity!

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20-16 Oct Joburg
27-30 Oct Mapungubwe: Limpopo forest tented camp, Leokwe camp
31 Oct-1 Nov Pafuri River Camp
2-15 Nov KNP: Punda Maria, Sirheni, Olifants, Tamboti, Skukuza
16-22 Nov Cape Town
23 Nov-20 Jan Darling


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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah tracking in MZNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:44 am 
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Foxy, thank you for drawing our attention to this :thumbs_up:

Arks, thank you for giving us your experience.

Mount Zebra is a unique and unbelievable place. It is "soul" country.

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