Samara's legendary cheetah - Sibella's genes spread beyond South Africa

Samara Private Game Reserve’s participation in a project to relocate cheetah to Malawi’s Majete Wildlife Reserve is the latest step in the reserve’s ongoing efforts to conserve and boost cheetah populations.

Samara is one of four South African reserves taking part in the relocation programme, which is coordinated by EWT and African Parks, with the latter additionally acting as a safe space creator. 

EWT’s ultimate goal is to create a cheetah metapopulation cluster in south central Africa, with reserves in Malawi and, possibly, Zambia and Mozambique going forward. This metapopulation cluster will, hopefully, contain a number of reserves supporting small cheetah populations, swapping individuals between reserves to ensure genetic and demographic health.

Samara’s Malawi-bound cheetah is a female born in April 2017; the daughter of Chilli. Chilli herself was a cub of Sibella, one of the most famous cheetahs in recent conservation history, for several reasons: she was the first wild cheetah introduced to the Karoo in 125 years, and her prodigious genes have gone on to populate the region admirably. Sibella reared 19 cubs from four litters during her lifetime, making her either mother, grandmother, great-grandmother or great-great-grandmother to 14.2% of South Africa’s current cheetah metapopulation. Her genes are present in the cheetah inhabiting 17 metapopulation reserves; in fact, one of her great-granddaughters was involved in the very first cheetah relocation to Malawi.

Samara’s participation in the programme follows the successful swap of a male from Welgevonden, in exchange for Samara’s male Shadow. The swap was also part of the metapopulation project, aiming to increase genetic diversity on the reserve.