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MBABANE – The fastest land animal in the world was spotted at Mlawula Nature Reserve, Siteki in the Lubombo Region over the weekend.

The cheetah, which is a rare wild animal to see at the nature reserve, was spotted on Saturday after being last seen in 1991.  According to the Director of Parks at the Eswatini National Trust Commission (ENTC), Thulani Methula, the cheetah was spotted at around 3pm during a game drive by rangers. He said the cheetah was thought to be a locally extinct species around the 1970s but said four more cheetahs were reintroduced between 1988 and 1990 at a place called Mapelepele at Mlawula. He said: “The last sighting of a cheetah in the country was in 1991.”

Methula mentioned that there was an assumption as years went by that the cheetah was locally extinct. He mentioned that a cheetah was very difficult to spot during the day, and said thanks to technology, an image of the animal was captured. Methula further said: “We are hopeful that there is a family of cheetahs around the area, where we saw the cheetah and we have since placed technologically advanced cameras around the area so that we can get more sighting.” He added that this was a beautiful sighting and a positive for the tourism sector as the cheetah was rare and one of the charismatic species in the animal kingdom.  The cheetah is a large cat native to Africa, central Iran, and was reintroduced to India in 2022. It is the fastest land animal, capable of running at 80 to 98 km/h; it has evolved specialised adaptations for speed, including a light build, long thin legs and a long tail.

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