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KwaZulu-Natal’s Ezemvelo Wildlife has suspended KwaCheetah’s commercial cheetah exhibition after at least three people, including a young school boy, were attacked in the past three months.

One of the cheetahs in an enclosure at the KwaCheetah breeding facility. Photo supplied for News24.
One of the cheetahs in an enclosure at the KwaCheetah breeding facility. Photo supplied for News24.

The first incident that Ezemvelo is aware of happened on 28 June 2015. Two more happened on 5 August and 6 August.

The Witness reported that on 28 June, a woman was bitten as she crouched down to take a photograph while in the cheetahs’ enclosure. Another woman was injured on 5 August followed by 10-year-old Aidan Fry on 6 August.

“The cheetah involved in all these incidents will not be destroyed. The investigation is still ongoing and the cheetah has not shown any form of aggression during the investigation,” said Musa Mntambo, communications manager for Ezemvelo.

Ezemvelo started investigating the attacks on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 to determine how the attacks happened, and if KwaCheetah was conducting its activities according to the management plan it submitted in its application for a permit.

Mntambo said that during the investigation, Ezemvelo discovered that KwaCheetah was already conducting certain activities, which are still being considered, whilst other activities are not in line with their Management Plan.

Activities not in line with the plan have led to lengthy consultations and review.

KwaCheetah has ceased all commercial exhibition until Ezemvelo has decided on the status of their plan, and both parties are working together to make sure KwaCheetah conducts its activities according to legislation.

“It has to be noted that application for a permit does not automatically imply that a permit will be granted; rather that Ezemvelo will consider all prevailing facts before reaching a decision. Applicants conducting operations without obtaining a permit prior to commencing their activities do so at their own risk. The public has a right to ask if such organisations have necessary permits and are advised not to visit such places should they not be happy with an explanation provided,” acting CEO of Ezemvelo, Dr Michael  Mabunda said.

Donnette Fry, mother of 10-year-old Aidan who was clawed through a fence and bitten by a cheetah while on a school trip, has spent a fraught few weeks worrying about her son’s wounds, and has also had to start a fundraising drive to raise money to cover his medical bills because the family is not on medical aid.

There is also no clarity yet on who is liable for his mounting hospital bills.


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