The Star Late Edition
Njozi the Rietvlei cheetah found
THE ELUSIVE female cheetah, Njozi, who had everyone running around looking for her over the past few days, may have never left the Rietvlei Nature Reserve.
This is according to Vincent van der Merwe of the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
“Njozi is back. We don't think she ever left the reserve,” he said.
“All the pictures of the footprints that were sent to us were definitely brown hyena. The reported cheetah sightings were probably just serval.”
Van der Merwe said it was obviously a case of mistaken identity.
One of the problems they faced in tracking the movements of Njozi was that her fitted tracking collar had not been working for some time.
Van der Merwe said they had been trying for three months to recollar her, but it was a daunting task.
“We have a new collar, but the problem is fitting it because she gets seen so rarely – basically once a month. We’ll have to get a vet here to assist when she is seen, so everything will have to come together.”
But Van der Merwe said they would keep on trying and hopefully the opportunity would present itself soon to recollar her and keep track of her movements.
Njozi had everyone on a wild goose chase. A helicopter and microlite even took to the sky after people near the reserve claimed they had seen Njozi.
It was suspected that she was chasing a waterbuck and managed to get out: there were reports of a dead buck found just outside the perimeter fence.
Van der Merwe and his team had feared the worst if Njozi was out, including that she might have been hit by a car.
He said they were relieved that she was fine and running around in the reserve. She was spotted there over the weekend.
The 2-year-old Njozi – the name means “dreams” in Swahili – will have to roam Rietvlei alone for a while until she is joined by a new mate sometime soon.
She came to Rietvlei last year after she was relocated from a reserve in the Western Cape.
She was temporarily in the company of a young male called Joe, who was recently relocated. The two of them met in the boma where Njozi was kept for about a month ahead of Joe’s arrival in October.
They were both released into the nature reserve.