Cheetah owners cleared after attack

Gareth Wilson

THE Kragga Kamma Game Reserve has been cleared of any wrongdoing after a Scottish tourist and a Port Elizabeth girl were attacked by cheetahs at the facility in April.

The provincial Environmental Affairs Department launched an investigation after Violet D’Mello and Camryn Malan were mauled by the two hand-reared felines.

The department’s Green Scorpions deputy director, Jaap Pienaar, said their investigation had determined the “park was not negligent and also has all its permits and other documentation in place”.

He said several factors played a role in the attack, including a group of noisy schoolchildren who had passed the enclosure moments before, and a female cheetah on heat in the next enclosure.

“We took all aspects into consideration during the investigation and feel it was a range of aspects that led to the incident,” he said. “The park is fully licensed to have the animals and meets all standards as per the regulations.”

Park manager Mike Cantor said yesterday the cheetah petting section had been reopened.

“We have resumed operations as per usual and as a precautionary measure we have increased the minimum age limit to go inside with the cheetahs to 16 years.

“In addition to this, we removed the height restriction which originally stated only people above 1.3m in height could go inside the enclosure,” he said.

The attack attracted international attention after D’Mello was attacked while trying to protect Camryn, 8, from the cats.

Camryn had been visiting with her parents, Glenda and Samuel Malan, and her siblings, Cassidy, 11, and Callum, 7.

Glenda said last night the family had not been informed of the latest development and declined to comment any further.

D’Mello described at the time how instinct took over and she played dead after one of the two “completely tame” cheetahs attacked her as she was trying to protect Callum.

Just moments before, D’Mello had posed for a picture with one of the animals. She was in a petting area for the hand-reared cheetahs with her husband, Archibald. Suddenly, one of the two cheetahs grabbed Camryn by the leg, leaving her with multiple cuts and abrasions which needed stitches.

D’Mello tried to intervene and the cheetahs turned on her in the process. She sustained several injuries, including lacerations to her head, face and legs.

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