BY REX MPHISA
TWO cheetahs mistaken for lions yesterday caused a stir at Goda Mahuhushe village, about 20km east of Beitbridge town. One was captured, while the other fled.
Villagers sent out distress calls after the wild cats sought shelter under a shrub right in the centre of the village.
Completely camouflaging themselves from the people, the cheetahs maintained their position for hours on end, having been first noticed by Agnes Senate (18) at 7am.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority officials rushed to the scene, where curious and anxious villagers took positions behind trees and field fences oblivious of the danger had they been real lions.
Some male villagers carried machetes, while women and children formed a line behind men.
None of the villagers wore any masks under the fresh rich air sweeping across the vlei.
Expertly looking at the spoor, Bonizi Manuwere, Beitbridge’s head ranger, said it would be a small lion if any, but quickly dismissed it for a smaller cat.
After encircling the tree with their vehicle at a snail’s pace, the game rangers drove back and advised villagers to be relieved, as these were not lions.
“These animals are cheetahs and are royal game we cannot kill,” he said.
Better-equipped rangers from Bubye Valley Conservancy rushed to the scene to tranquilise the animals for relocation.
They managed one and the other fled. The cats were said to be responsible for killing more than 13 goats and four sheep from the end of December to date.
The capturing was more like a live movie on wildlife movie channel National Geographic and villagers followed it with amusement and awe.
The villagers also enjoyed a live display of the cheetah’s prowess on its legs as the one which got away fled across the vlei.
Cheetahs, which are the fastest living animals on land, can do speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.
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