Department dismisses “misinformation” on social media that the cats had been caught and killed.
THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform on Wednesday confirmed that four cheetahs are still on the loose in John Taolo Gaetsewe District.
It is believed that the cheetahs have moved approximately five kilometres away from communities in the area of Tsineng, Matlhwaring and the Ga-Sese river.
The department said it had noted social media misinformation that the four cats had been caught and killed.
It urged community members to ignore all social media videos, voice clips and pictures purporting to show that the cheetahs had been killed.
Department spokesperson Zandisile Luphahla said that it is suspected that the cheetahs are a mother and three cubs due to descriptions received.
Luphahla said the department is still waiting for confirmation to determine where the animals come from. He said they might be from a neighbouring country or a game reserve.
He ruled out the possibility that they might have left a game reserve after the recent veld fires, which damaged numerous fences.
“The last area where the cheetahs were spotted was about 5km away from the community. We have been receiving several calls where the cats were spotted,” said Luphahla.
According to Luphahla, a search team was activated on Tuesday but had to stop their search due to terrain challenges.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, the department’s team, together with the police, were in hot pursuit to locate the four cheetahs. The terrain became difficult in the Severn area, which caused the members to stop the search.”
He said that the search was continuing today (Wednesday).
“The chopper from the Cheetahs Foundation and the veterinary unit are on standby,” he added.
“The two farm owners in the area of Severn and Paul Roux have also been activated to be on the alert and inform the police upon spotting the animals.”
Luphahla advised that cheetahs only become dangerous to human beings if they are confronted or attacked or feel threatened.
The MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform, Mase Manopole, is calling on the community to be patient and calm as the team, led by the police, is working hard to catch the cats.
“We will continue to give regular updates as the search is unfolding. Our team will also be in contact with the communities around the areas where the cheetahs were spotted to give updates,” said Manopole.