Many of our followers are aware of the cheetah DNA profiling we have been conducting. A change in regulations and the implementation of a new set of requirements for DNA profiling has necessitated this, and HESC has fully complied in order to get the necessary accreditation from various institutions.
This is an extremely intense, tedious and stressful process – from the darting and subsequent monitoring of the cheetahs, to the DNA evaluation process and then ensuring the cheetahs are all doing well after the drugs have worn off – but we are near completion. This process is of course very important for the conservation, research and management of this truly unique species, as all the information collected are collated into a database.
The cheetah database provides information to determine the genetic diversity and differentiation within wild and captive cheetah populations. In this way, genetic results can be used to advise breeders in order to prevent further inbreeding, while the genetics of wild cheetahs are available to assist with relocations into suitable reserves.
Dr Rogers again conducted the DNA profiling on the cubs, as only a qualified veterinarian is allowed to do the procedure. The cost of a single DNA profile is R1,600 excluding veterinarian, staff and drugs. For the four cheetahs, the cost came to R8,000 (excluding veterinary costs and the courier of the blood). Following rules and regulations may be a financially costly exercise, but is the right thing to do for our cheetah breeding programme.