At the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (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.
Meg and Tristan mated three months ago and a litter of cubs is expected to occur in the next 12 hours, as it appears Meg has now gone into labor. Meg does not carry the king cheetah gene, so none of these cubs will in fact be king cheetahs. However, they will all carry the gene, and in the future if paired with another gene carrying partner, a king cheetah birth would be possible.
At HESC, a special maternity ward has been constructed so that the females can give birth in a proper environment. Once the babies have been born the staff will allow nature to take its course and 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 can not 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 will be making the birth webcam available to the rest of the world in partnership with Africam.com. Viewers can witness the birth itself, as well as the first few weeks of Meg raising her new babies. In addition, if viewers wish to help in the conservation effort, there is a donation portal where they can contribute directly to the care of the cubs.
LINK TO LIVE CAMERA: http://www.africam.com/