Captive breeding now and in the near future might be the only way to save this threatened species from extinction. The cheetah is already extinct in more than 25 countries where they formerly occupied.
Responsible cheetah breeding and re-wilding concepts in the form of teaching them to hunt naturally in the ideal environment is possible and has also been achieved by us. Above and beyond this point, a cheetah that has been bred for this purpose has a far better chance for survival due to the fact that the cat gets released at an age of two and a half years. This means that the factors that destroy young cubs in the wild namely, natural predators, disease, health issues have then all already been overcome.
By captive breeding cheetah, selected cats that have genetically been scanned, can be successfully mated to produce almost superior genes. These cats that are hand reared or raised by their mother, can be tested and compared to other captive bred cats as to improve the world cheetah genetic makeup. Cheetahs born in the wild have a mortality rate of up to 90% depending on their geographical location. These mortalities include disease, natural predators, human conflict and of course the ever increasing cub grabbing out of the wild to support the illegal trade in these cats as pets. With responsible captive breeding, 95% of these threats are automatically eliminated. Hence a fit and healthy cheetah with exceptional hunting skills been put onto a predator free reserve has a far better chance for a successful survival and reproduction rate than the average wild born cheetah. Captive bred cheetah are inoculated against all known diseases, which will in itself bring down their mortality rate in the wild, seeing that their immune system will be much stronger. With genetic control and monitoring we can also eliminate inbreeding which is a huge problem with wild cheetah.
This is what we owe them. Us humans have destroyed their habitat, hunted and persecuted them to the ends of the earth.
The main goal will be to breed and release cheetah back into the wild to supplement the current dwindling population. We will focus on other breeding projects and create a hub where other breeders can "give back" by sending a percentage of their breeding stock to the Running Wild Conservation for the end goal of releasing. This program consists of different stages from hand rearing or cheetah mother raised, hunting training, and predator avoidance to eventual release and post release monitoring. Under no circumstances will we trade with cheetah, these animals will be released under a custodianship basis to ensure the best possible outcome for the released animals.
Other goals will include a sanctuary for injured and orphaned animals that cannot be released. We would like to look into the rescue and repatriation of older or mistreated cheetahs from zoos and other breeding projects all over the globe and offer these animals a deserved semi freedom in their final years.
We are not re-inventing the wheel, just correctly equipping the vehicle for its journey.