Two cheetahs born in captivity in Canada are doing well in the wild a year after being transported to a reserve in Zimbabwe.
Kumbe and Jabari were born as part of a Pan-American breeding program for cheetahs, whose numbers are falling in the wild. The two brothers were the sixth generation of their family to be born in captivity, but the first to be born in Quebec.
The cheetahs’ journey to Africa in February was a challenge for them, since they departed Montreal at -23 degrees Celsius and landed in Zimbabwe at 25 degrees Celsius.
“The toughest adjustment for them was the weather,” Parc Safari scientist Nathalie Santerre told CTV National News. “They had to remove that winter coat and get used to the African sun.”
They had to spend two months in quarantine after arriving before being released into the wildlife reserve.
Rangers at the Imire reserve who were tracking Kumbe and Jabari with collars claimed the two young cheetahs were hunting normally within hours of being freed, despite the difficult transition.
“The great thing about these animals is their instinct. Their instincts are so strongly entrenched in them that they can’t help themselves “Reilly Travers, a conservationist at Imire, echoed this sentiment. “It’s just a part of who I am.”
One year later, the cheetahs have had lots of opportunities to practice hunting on zebras and impalas at Imire. Kumbe and Jabari, according to rangers, are now as muscular as wild cheetahs.
The cheetahs’ next obstacle will be mating in the wild. Santerre said the two brothers are sexually mature, and conservationists are planning to put female cheetahs into the mix within the next year or two, in the hopes that the boys’ unique DNA – bred in captivity – will help diversify the gene pool of cubs born on the Zimbabwe reserve.
“Their Canadian roots will always be there,” Santerre added, “but that is in the past.” “They’re African cheetahs now, and they’re doing great, and we’re extremely pleased of them.”