There’s a cheetah in the garden

[This story happened back in August, but I thought I’d share it anyway.]

Imagine having to call the police and wildlife authorities with that news!  Especially if you live in a town/city. Well, if you live in Swakopmund (a small, coastal city in Namibia), somebody might actually believe you. During August a cheetah moved into town.

A month previously two young male cheetahs had been radio-collared and relocated to Sossusvlei (click on this link to see some photos) in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. But after a week of monitoring the cats disappeared.

One of those cheetahs was subsequently discovered in Swakopmund, by a local gardener who spotted the cheetah in a garden. According to one report he said about his experience: “I didn’t panic, but I was very scared. I didn’t want to frighten it also.” I think I’d be very scared too – but I probably would panic! Even though cheetahs (unless cornered) are not known to be aggressive towards people.

So the wildlife authorities were called, and a veterinary surgeon from Walvis Bay was summoned to come and dart the animal. Imagine the surprise of all the domestic cats and dogs at the local animal shelter when their new (albeit temporary) kennel mate turned up!

The cheetah has now been moved to the Cheetah Conservation Fund facility in Otjiwarongo (north of Windhoek). The plan being  to relocate him permanently some time in the future.

Map/satellite image of Namibian coast – A=Sossusvlei (Source: Google Maps)

What makes this story remarkable is the distance this cheetah travelled (across a hostile landscape – basically desert)  to get to Swakopmund. So why would a big cat do this?

Dr Laurie Marker, CCF’s Executive Director said, “Dispersal male cheetahs, which are pushed out of their maternal home ranges by dominant male cheetahs, are known to travel over 200 km, however, cheetahs are shy and unlikely to enter areas that are densely populated. In general, cheetahs are not aggressive and pose no threat to humans as they prefer flight to fight. So, how this cat ended up in the middle of the city of Swakopmund is still somewhat unexplained. And where is its brother, as cheetah males stick together?”

Hopefully the cheetah will settle down in his new home, establish his own territory . . . and stay out of the gardens of Swakopmund!


Tags: , , ,

Categories: Nature/Environment


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


Subscribe to the Notes from Africa RSS and Twitter feeds to receive updates.

4 Comments on “There’s a cheetah in the garden”

  1. September 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    Wow, imagine that? I definitely would panic too! It’s so interesting that it travelled so far.
    A friend of ours in Cape Town once had a cheetah in his garden, but that was on purpose!
    Sunshine x

    • September 28, 2010 at 7:52 am #

      Yes, and if you look at the satellite image, most of that looks like dune-like desert. I wonder if it actually took a straight line, or went along the edge of the dune area? Which would have made it longer journey still.

  2. Dave Joubert
    September 29, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    I’m half suspecting that someone trapped it, drugged it, took it there and it escaped

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: