4 Cheetah Cubs Born With Rare "King Cheetah" Gene
Cheetah mother Meg, has just given birth to four cubs at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC), in an attempt to keep the rare king cheetah gene alive for future generations.
At HESC, which focuses on the conservation of rare, vulnerable or endangered animals, cheetah conservation is one of their core disciplines. Cheetahs are a threatened species and the rarest of them all is the "King Cheetah". This special line of cheetahs was first discovered in 1926, where it was thought to be a completely new and exciting species – a strange hybrid between a cheetah and a leopard. Although we now know that it is not a new species, but in fact a distinctive fur pattern variation of a normal spotted cheetah. King cheetahs have been reported in the wild, including a sighting in the Kruger National Park in 1974, but are incredibly rare, which raises the importance of a project such as this.
On the evening of July, 26 Meg gave birth to four cheetah cubs in the HESC maternity ward. She herself does not carry the king cheetah gene, but the cub's father Tristan is in fact a king cheetah. This means that these four cubs will not be king cheetahs, but they will all carry the gene. In the future if they were paired with another gene carrying partner, a king cheetah birth would be possible.
At this point, the staff at HESC will not approach the infant cats so that they can be cared for by their mother in the most natural way possible. That being said, monitoring is of course an important part of conservation, so the centre has set up a 24/7 webcam with live video and sound. Through this device they cannot only monitor the cheetahs but also gather valuable information for future conservation efforts.
HESC believes that promoting education and awareness surrounding the cheetahs is paramount, and in accordance with that they have made the cheetah cub webcam available to the rest of the world in partnership with Africam.com. Viewers can check in with the cheetah family at any time to see how the babies are doing. In addition, if they wish to help in the conservation effort, there is a donation portal where they can contribute directly to the care of the cubs.