Very few people have the privilege to see Africa in all her splendour, and even less have the chance to witness her graceful big cats in their natural environment. And soon this will no longer be a privilege for the wealthy traveller or even for the residents of Africa.
These cats are on the brink of extinction and no money in the world will bring them back.
South Africa will face this dilemma very soon as our wild population is still declining rapidly.
Currently millions of dollars are been spent on genetic research to try bring back already extinct animals. We are in a situation now when a fraction of the funds spent on this genetic research can actually ensure that species don’t go extinct. Why does the human race wait until something is gone before we realise what we could have done. Why are millions granted for post extinction research but minimal for current hands on practises to prevent the inevitable. Millions are been spent on anti-poaching efforts, don’t get me wrong I think this is fantastic, but how much is spent on rhino breeding initiatives? Or are we going to change our focus once there are only a handful left. Responsible rewilding of captive bred cheetah is vital for South Africa's cheetah population.
Cheetahs are destined to possibly be extinct within 20 years but still breeding in captivity and rewilding is frowned on, and still CITES will not allow cross border movement for the purpose of building a stronger gene pool for these cats. Again are we going to wait until it’s too late? Most of you will understand the argument that politics should not be involved in sports due to the fact it taints the game and that promising players are left out due to political agendas, well surprise, surprise, the poetics ruling conservation efforts are doing the same thing. Shouldn’t true conservation efforts focus on just that, conservation and not get caught up in jealousy and self-redeeming practises that tend to put conservation on the back burner. Sure I understand the saying that everyone wants their 15 minutes in the spotlight, but if those 15 minutes could cost the future generation a species then some of us need to rethink that time in the spotlight.
People in all walks of life need to wake up to the fact that we are losing our natural heritage at a rate that cannot be replenished, people need to start advocating their right to preserve what is theirs, the right to see Africa’s big cats in their natural environment without any political interference or unjust agendas. I am not saying there should be no legislation and make it a free for all, but what I am saying is that responsible projects that have the sole focus of repopulating an endangered species should get the utmost support from the governing bodies as these are the people without those mentioned political agendas, and these are the only people who are actually trying to save what belongs to you and your children, the cheetah.