Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cheetah and Lady: YouTube Tuesday.

Welcome to Youtube Tuesday again, a day of sharing videos that grab your fancy and may excite others.
This may knock your socks off!

Causing a lot of controversy on Facebook pages, even amongst wildlife conservation sites, this video shows Marlice Van Vuren of Naankuse sanctuary, Namibia interacting with 8 cheetah. It's hard to hear clearly what she is saying as the French voice-over drowns her out. We cannot know in what context this was filmed, or know what editing has been done, so her motives are not clear.

So what do you think of this?

Gutsy lady playing with cheetah, much as I play "I chase you/ you chase me" with my dog - all snarls and growls then big hugs afterwards?

Or teasing those cheetahs?

Editor's note-( BTW that's me)
Since posting this I have been digging around to find out more about what is behind this video.
This video was filmed 15 years ago, at another sanctuary, not at Naankuse. What you see is Marlice playing with cheetah long before she acquired and established Naankuse. During the intervening 15 years Marlice Van Vuren has developed far better methods and techniques of rehabilitating and re-introduction of cats to the wild. 

A 15 year old video should not be posted today to denigrate any wildlife conservation organisation or person. 

Wildlife conservation has moved a long way since then, particularly the policies and principles that Naankuse operate by.

This video is being touted around on many sites. Please view it for what is is at the time, 15 years ago- a girl playing with cheetah. 

If you watch carefully you'll see the cheetah back off when she advances, then they advance when she retreats, until they have decided they have had enough. Normally when I play this game with my dog, it's me who decides when it's enough!
And then watch how the cheetah accept her, and her petting them.

Ed's note- The following refers to cheetah currently at Naankuse, not those in the video which are filmed 15 years ago at another sanctuary.

These 8 cheetah (below photo) are two sets of cubs brought to Naankuse after the mothers had been shot. At such a young age they needed hand rearing, and that close contact from bottle feeding means they have lost their fear of humans, and associate humans with food. To release them into the wild means they will come in too close to farms and settlements for food, and be shot.

The only alternative is to let them live out their lives in huge enclosures, and since they have all been raised from cubs together, their is very little problem with them sharing the enclosure. Even so, within the enclosure each has marked out their area to gain the separation each cheetah naturally seeks, and they come together as a group at feeding time, or when called. Remember these guys aren't able to spend their day hunting, so some interesting activity is beneficial.

Kay, my two daughters and I were there in July 2009: we fed these cats.

Cats at the sanctuary are triaged.
Those that are very tame like cheetah or caracal, are able to have daily contact, petting by humans.

Those like the ones we see which are not tame, but human-habituated are kept in large enclosures and have little human contact apart from feeding or game-viewing.

Other 'problem' or injured cats are kept well apart from humans, except for feeding, and released back into the wild, well away from humans. A carnivore rehabilitation program exists releasing and radio-collar monitoring them in the Namib-Rand Park. Over 30 carnivores, cheetah, leopard, hyena, and caracal have been successfully re-introduced.

It is a guiding principle of Naankuse that wild animals should be rehabilitated and released wherever possible, and not be kept in captivity unless they face a high chance of becoming a 'problem' animal and be shot. Many farmers consider leopard and cheetah as vermin to be eradicated.

There is no captive breeding of any cats at Naankuse. 
Either males are neutered, or females speyed if they are retained at the sanctuary.
Why breed them when enough cubs are orphaned and brought in as it is!

My photo of those cheetah, July 2009. This is the feeding corner of the enclosure. You see two sides but you cannot see the far side fence line which gives you an idea of the space these beautiful cats have.

Share your favorite video every Tuesday. Be Creative, and have fun. The video can be about anything.
Visit Tiger Time for more great YouTube Tuesday selections. Josh is the man with the plan! Leave your name and link in his linky tool so everyone can view your video selection.
Leave your link in my comments section so I can drop by and see your choice.



Robyn Hartley said...

As I understand the whole argument/controversy behind this video is not what they are ACTUALLY doing in terms of their work and conservation. Indeed by the sounds of it they are doing a great job. HOWEVER, the video unfortunately sheds bad light on how they go about this, which is unfortunate. Wild animals, hand reared or not and especially predators should never be teased in that way or fed by hand as a "making friends" gesture. Hopefully, the video will be put aside and lessons learnt.

Alpana Jaiswal said...

I am totally fascinated by the video...
my link:

photos by jan said...

Ya know, I saw this video on facebook awhile back and I was only intrigued by her lack of fear. The cheetah played much as my domestics do when in the back yard. I always wonder at peoples ability to endear themselves to wild animals. I know that they need to remain wild and non- dependent on humans but as we take more and more of their natural habitat we must do something to help them either re- assimilate into the place "we" want them to be or prevent them from being killed just because they are trying to survive. I applaud the work that is being done and congratulate her on starting somewhere, and continuing to learn better ways. Thank you for posting this and the info with it, I truly appreciate it. <3

Jim said...

Hi Robyn, yes if this was happening today trhen fair point.
But researching the genesis of the video and I have been told this was recorded 15 years ago. What Marlice did then and what she does today are very different. She is up with the best in cheetah conservation and Naankuse now practise minimal human involvement with any cheetah brought into them so they can be re-hab and released early.
Times have moved well beyond 15 years ago Thankfully.

Jim said...

Jan you constantly amaze me with how knowledgeable of the real, practical world you are. You certainly have yourself well grounded in reality, and not in idealism, but you have that softness that makes for great judgement.
You summed it up correctly when you said she started somewhere then went on to better ways. Unfortunately this video is appearing in lots of places nowadays and some people have an agenda to use it to malign her great work today, where she uses modern practises very successfully.

JIM said...

Obviously an intriguing video Jim.. Brave young women and I agree with Jan 100%.. Thanks for posting this Jim I had not seen it!!

Unknown said...

Wow Jim! Fascinating and educational all at the same time! Thanks for sharing this :)

Bongo said...


Mary Hudak-Collins said...

I'm a little surprised that she didn't get attacked at first. Her methods are definitely different as I'm sure they have changed over 15 yrs time. Great video, as always Jim. Thanks for sharing :)

Jim said...

Hi Jim, yeah I posted this up to spread awareness about what the video really is, 15 years ago a girl plays with cheetah. Today that woman is a leader in very different ways of caring for cheetah. Some sites are portraying this as how they are treated today, quite wrong.
I'd hate to think that today I am judged on my actions when I was 20 years old....LOL>

Jim said...

Hi Anna, glad you found it educational.

Jim said...

Hi Bonnie, I look at that and I see her playing very much the same way I play with my dog and the 2 we had before. They loved nothing more than to be chased, or to chase me. Natural instincts of play that all cubs and puppies love and learn from.

Jim said...

Thanks Mary. She could probably do that because she would have been a very familiar person to those cheetah ever since they were bottle-fed cubs.
Cheetah are said to be similar to dogs in some ways- that they can be 'tamed' and retain memory of meeting someone and showing devotion in a similar way to a dog.

Jim said...

I use the term 'tamed' very cautiously....

Patrick Webb said...

I have no idea what the big stir is. It's clearly some sort of (outdated) media presentation, obviously aired in France or some French speaking country. She is speaking English, explaining her actions, but the overdub in French prevents me from hearing what she is saying.

She is obviously demonstrating some behavioral aspect of rescued cheetahs in the sanctuary (and from what I understand, are not able to ever be released) and displaying human interaction. Maybe it was an effort to raise funding for the facility she's at (which for those who never volunteer at, or donate to sanctuaries, find easy to criticize).

I built and have maintained a wildlife sanctuary for over 20 years, and we always need help (and see very little public funding). I would never be able to do that with our residents (nor would I want to) but our tigers arrived full grown and from bad circumstances, so it would be extremely irresponsible to interact that closely. We allow our wildlife to be themselves, with a strict No Buy, No Sell, No Breed and No Exhibit policy.

I'm not condoning her actions, but just pointing out that 15 years ago, this was more the norm for getting public exposure to wildlife efforts. This video is now virile and will remain on the internet forever. She is not being inhumane nor abusive to the cats, so people need to cut her some slack for lending her cheetah experience and obvious good looks, to some sort of promo film.

Note the camera man is filming and not interacting, and not being accosted by the cats, which leads me to believe this is just a playful game, and a display of interaction for public outreach, albeit dated compared to current interaction concepts.

Nelieta said...

Wow, this is incredible! I am tense just looking at it!You can clearly see that she is not scared.

tbaoo said...

amazing interaction, thanks jim - no such interaction at