Kgalagadi Cheetahs 03 of 2011

Dec 3, 2011

MISSION  31 of  2011

Name of Mission: Kgalagadi Cheetahs 3 of 2011         
Date of Mission: 3 December 2011   
Aircraft used: Robinson R44 helicopter         
Pilot: Peter Hohne      
Beneficiary: Gus Mills of the Kgalagadi Cheetah Project

Objective of the Flight     

To recover a radio tracking collar fitted to a young  female cheetah – expensive equipment containing valuable information.

Beneficiary’s story of the mission        By Gus Mills       

This is the intro for the Annual Report:
This mission was requested by Gus Mills of the Kgalagadi Cheetah Project, trying to recover a radio tracking collar. The flight took place on 03 December 2011 in a Robinson R44 Raven II flown by Peter Hohne, who stepped in at very short notice to do this flight for Gus. The report below was submitted by Gus Mills. 

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Two days after our unsuccessful Bateleurs Flight to recover a high tech cheetah drop-off collar, we received a report that a collared cheetah had been seen just south of KijKij windmill – the day after we had originally lost contact with the cheetah, Pie. This is 20 kms from where we had seen her the previous evening. Although it was extremely unlikely that it was Pie, we managed to track down the person who had reported the cheetah, a Mr Hans-Ulrich Meyer, from Switzerland, and phoned him at home. He reported that he had taken a photograph of the cheetah and kindly agreed to email it to us. We were very surprised to find that it was in fact, Pie.

This meant that our previous Bateleurs-supported search had not been focused in the most likely area of recovery. So once again I contacted The Bateleurs, and once again they very kindly agreed to sponsor a second flight to search for the scientifically highly valuable collar.  At very short notice Peter Hohne from Kimberley agreed to fly to Twee Rivieren in his Robinson 44 helicopter.

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At 17h00 on the afternoon of Saturday 3 December, with the air temperature still hovering at around 40°C, we took off from Twee Rivieren, with renewed hope, and with a new and more extensive search grid. The transects we planned to fly were about 28 kms long and we realised that, more than likely, we were in for a long and arduous flight. However, this time our luck changed. As we turned at the end of the first transect I heard what I had been listening for and within a few minutes we were on the ground close to the elusive collar.

Just to keep us honest, our ground search was hampered somewhat by a short in the co-ax cable between the receiver and the directional antenna, which caused the signal periodically to disappear. But eventually our eagle-eyed pilot spotted the collar lying under a bush. What joy and relief all round!  Data stored on the collar are unique and will help improve our understanding of how these threatened cats are adapting to their arid environment. Once again our sincere thanks and gratitude to The Bateleurs.

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