Darting my last cheetah

It’s fitting that Mike the  vet darted cats on my first and last days at Phinda. 

A while ago this female cheetah was seen with what we thought were burn marks on her legs. 

Meg sent a photo to the vet and it turns out the cheetah has mange. So we’ve been trying to find her again in order to treat her. A ranger finally got a good view of her, so we joined him and called Mike the vet. An hour later Mike was on the scene with his trusty dart gun. 

Whenever an animal is darted, they run a bit. You’d be startled too if someone shot you in the derrière. You can see the dart in the left side of the cheetah’s rump. 

The darts used for cheetah have a dissolving needle so they fall out on their own. 

Next we tracked the cheetah to where it went down, thankfully in the shade. Because the meds slow their breathing, you always have to worry about darted animals overheating. Given how bad this cat’s mange was, I was happy we didn’t have to move her to a shadier spot. If you look at her legs you can see why the Zulu name for this is “the burning sickness”:

Mike injected her with medicine and then gave her the reversing agent for the tranquilliser. We settled in to wait for her to get up. She was pretty woozy but eventually got back on her feet. She should only need that single dose of meds, but the monitoring team will be keeping an eye on her for a while. 

And with that, my time at Phinda was over! I was sad to leave, but looking forward to vacation with Grimbil at another reserve. 

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