MISSION 2 OF 2010
Name of Mission: Cheetah Tracking for the Kgalagadi Cheetah Project (1 of 2010)
Date of Mission: 24th January 2010
Aircraft used: Robinson R44
Beneficiary: Gus Mills
Pilot: Andre van Niekerk
Pilot’s story of the mission : By ANDRE VAN NIEKERK
During the Cheetah Tracking flight of 24th January, five Cheetah were found using the radar, four of which were plotted and were later visited by Gus Mills, by vehicle.
The one cheetah which we did not “find” was simply a case of not wanting to waste time with his exact position, as we were near enough to trace him with the vehicle.
Gus Mills was happy with the mission.
Passenger’s story of the mission : By GUS MILLS
Early on the morning of 24th January Bateleurs pilot Andre van Niekerk and I took off from Twee Rivieren in his Robinson Helicopter to look for radio-collared cheetahs.
Our priority was three females whom we had not seen for several weeks, and we need to check them out to determine if they had cubs. Females without cubs travel over large areas in excess of 1000 km² and are particularly difficult to find from the ground. Two and a half hours later we had succeeded in locating these three females, as well as another female who has four cubs, and a single male. It would have taken us several days of searching to find these animals from the ground and even then we might not have been successful.Having a good idea of where they were, we were able over the next few days to locate them from the ground. None had cubs but interestingly one was in heat and we watched her interacting with a male. They did not mate, but might have done so the night before.
Because of the low reproductive rate of female Kalahari cheetahs and the high mortality rate of small cubs, it is very important that we monitor the females regularly. The flights provided by The Bateleurs are very helpful in this regard and very much appreciated.