Releasing two caracals born in captivity into the wild, turned out to be both a sad and exciting moment for Emdoneni Cheetah Project owners Louis and Cecillie Nel.

Two one year old male caracals, born at Emdoneni Cheetah Project, Hluhluwe, were part of the breeding project aimed at saving the African wildcat, Caracal, Cheetah and Serval from extinction. The intention is to breed where possible and release the offspring back into their natural habitat.

The cats were released in the Mziki Shareblock at Phinda Game Reserve after being judged fit and able to hunt for themselves. Tiptoeing out of the crate, the first male entered his new home by first stopping right in the middle of all the spectators to give them a last close-up inspection before disappearing into the forest. Male number two wasn’t too keen on exploring his new habitat and it took a lot more convincing before he made his leap for freedom. The caracal is an endangered species, mostly killed by farmers because of predation on their livestock. In some areas they are killed for their skin and meat.

The Nel Family truly have One Heart, One Passion and One Goal, to save these rare species.

“I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self-contained; I stand and look at them long and long.”

By Walt Whitman