Cheetah attacks sparks uproar

Pietermaritzburg - A report of a third cheetah attack has emerged while the two reported attacks at the KwaCheetah breeding facility are still fresh in the news.

In the latest big cat bite report, a woman alleged she was bitten by a cheetah on June 28 while visiting the facility at the Nambiti Game Reserve in Ladysmith on her birthday.The woman, who asked not to be named, said a cheetah bit her arm while she crouched down to take a photo while in the cheetahs’ enclosure with a small group. She was part of a group of 20 visitors who were split in smaller groups.

“It was very painful. The guides took time to get the cheetah to let go and it eventually did after they [the guides] blocked its nose,” the woman said.

The woman said officials at the facility disinfected her wound with Dettol and she then went to a hospital in Newcastle, her hometown, to get the necessary tetanus shots and vaccinations. KwaCheetah’s Clarke Smith said the incident did not involve the same cheetah that attacked Aiden Fry and an elderly woman last week.

Clarke said the cheetahs receive routine vaccinations and the incident was not mentioned when The Witness queried if there were other incidents involving cheetahs attacking people because “it was not seen as worthy of mention as the person did not require further medical attention after her wounds were cleaned and treated at KwaCheetah”.

“She in fact stayed afterwards and had lunch with her mother,” Smith said.

“In this incident the cheetah scratched the lady and there were some shallow punctures from a nip. The recent incidents are still being investigated, and historically over the five-year history of KwaCheetah there have been no major incidents,” Smith said.

The KwaCheetah Breeding Project was established five years ago to support the conservation of critically endangered cheetah in Southern Africa.

Smith said the project aims primarily to work towards increasing the South African cheetah population, releasing cheetahs into the wild and educating the public about cheetah and their current precarious status.

“There are currently at least five cheetah set to be released into the wild as part of a carefully planned phased release process...” Smith said.

The Witness reported this week on two other attacks by a cheetah at the facility, one on a 10-year-old Cowan House pupil on Thursday last week and another the day before on an elderly woman. - The Witness


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