Honey the Cheetah
February 28th, 2008
How could I fail to hear about the fall out from the Honey the cheetah saga as published in the Mail on Sunday recently. Seemed to me as if it was more about someone wanting to have a go at the BBC than anything else which was a pity as there were some real issues there – yes, Honey did die as a result of being darted by a vet, but nobody was trying to mislead the public by not broaching the issue when the latest series of Big Cat went on air. That series was filmed in Sept 2006 and, based on the past, would normally have been aired a few months later. But the series did not find a slot until much later than anyone anticipated – over a year later in fact, not least because the traditional slot for the Diaries of 7.00pm on BBC1 has since been taken by the One Show. Honey died on 17 Feb 2007 – her three surviving male cubs are fit and healthy according to the latest information and living on the other side of the river to where they were born in the Mara Triangle/Conservancy. It is impossible to keep the audience abreast of all the
developments that take place in the lives of the big cats we feature on the television series. It is out of our hands as to how incidents such as the one relating to Honey are handled by the BBC – but all of us involved with Big Cat Diary/Week pride ourselves on the integrity of the series. With regard to intervention in the lives of the wild animals, none of us are allowed to intervene regardless of how emotional the situation might be – but that is because we are visitors and members of the general public not the Reserve authorities who exercise their discretion in deciding whether to intervene or not. Cheetahs are endangered species and as such are sometimes treated as special cases. But in general the authorities prefer to let nature take its course. However, hundreds of thousands of people visit the Mara each year and there are cases when a Vet is called to treat an animal for injuries inflicted by predators of by humans to save unnecessary suffering – nobody wants to see an animal carrying a horrific injury for days or weeks at at time if something can be done about it, and a Vet is now based permanently in the Mara to be relatively close at hand courtesy of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I know that people were very concerned about the Honey incident: reports were filed by eye witnesses and a number of people took the matter up with the relevant authorities. We are all hoping that Big Cat Diary/Week will be back on air later this year – but if it isnt it wont be because we are hiding anything!!