By Guest Blogger, Leila Brummer aged 13.
One winter’s morning I was out feeding the horses in their paddocks. Everything seemed just like any other day; birds chirping, dogs walking and sniffing about, and the horses calmly swishing their tails. As I was giving the horses their grass, I was called urgently to hear that there were Cheetahs on the farm. The mother was out of sight and there were two cubs on one side of the fence and two were stranded on the other. When we arrived, we saw their tiny tracks imprinted in the sand, desperately pacing up and down, but they were nowhere to be found. Slowly, we drove down the road, searching for them in the long, brown grass. We came past one of the camera traps I had set up and decided to check it, to see if they had gone past. Much to my dismay, I had put the camera trap on the wrong setting! There were no photos.
Hastily resetting it, we dashed off to collect the other camera traps, to place along the fence to locate the missing cubs. While we were gone, their fresh footprints showed us that they had walked right passed the camera trap. Eagerly, I scrambled to check if the camera had recorded them, and if their mother was anywhere to be seen. Fantastic! The photo clearly showed her, walking with one of the other cubs.
Movement caught my eye! Far in the distance, only visible through binoculars, I was able to see the cubs in the road ahead. Out of the shade of a Shepherd’s tree, the mother appeared, softly calling to her cubs. With overwhelming relief, we realised they would need help to be reunited, through the savage fence. Scanning the fence line for possibilities, we found warthog holes and, hopping out of the car, I began frantically excavating rocks and sand. By doing so, it gave them an opportunity to reunite.
Leila working hard alongside her Mother, Rox Brummer - Mingati Wildlife Director to ensure that the Cheetah Cubs are reunited with their mother.
Like ghosts into the darkness, farmland cheetahs melt into the bush to keep hidden from view, after years of persecution, so we withdrew to allow them privacy to discover the passages under the fence. Anxiously returning, there were no recent tracks to be seen anywhere. In addition, the camera traps had no evidence of their presence either. The cheetahs have successfully re-joined as a family!
Leila lives on a farm in Alldays, where alongside her mother she is working hard to conserve the last free roaming predators of the Greater Limpopo-Shashe Region. At 13 years old, she has already accompanied her mother, Rox Brummer one of the founding Mingati Wildlife Directors on a number of conservation projects across the Continent.
Leila has a wonderful Instagram account @Ballerinainthebush where you can follow her adventures and escapes as she works tirelessly towards creating a better future for our wildlife and young conservationists across the globe.