Harnas Wildlife Foundation
Harnas Wildlife Foundation
    • Mauritz was found on the verge of death with large holes in his head exposing his brain and several other bite marks and scratches. 
    • It took three years of recovery undergoing several surgeries to remove old bone, clean his scalp and fix his eyes.  
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    This cheetah was successfully released into the wild, only to be mauled by a predator. However Mauritz, the cheetah, has now made a remarkable recovery.

    Mauritz the cheetah spent the first three years of his life locked away. With some intervention from the Harnas Wildlife Foundation, a Namibian wildlife sanctuary in Gobabis, Mauritz and his brother Max were released back into the wild on their 8,000 hectare reserve.

    This was supposed to be the happy ending to Mauritz’s tale, but three years after his release, in 2015, Mauritz was found after having been brutally mauled by either a competing cheetah or a leopard.  

    Harnas Wildlife Foundation
    After the attack. Source Harnas Wildlife Foundation

    “He had big holes in his head exposing his brain and several other bite marks and scratches. He was sent to a vet in Gobabis in a critical condition. The vet's main concern at this stage was infection,” said Kaatje Steenhoudt, of the Harnas Wildlife Foundation.

    After spending a month in critical care, Mauritz was strong enough to come home to allow his wounds to heal. He needed to gain the strength for some major operations.

    Harnas Wildlife Foundation
    Back home after being in critical care. Source Harnas Wildlife Foundation

    A task team consisting of volunteers and staff took care of Mauritz, dressing his wounds three times a day to prevent infection. By July, two months after he had been found, he was still not well enough for the operations he needed.

    Harnas Wildlife Foundation
    Back home after being in critical care. Source Harnas Wildlife Foundation

    “There was a lot of dead bone, so [the vet] waited for the bone to grow out before closing the holes,” said Steenhoudt.

    By 2016, Mauritz was strong enough to undergo several operations. But the holes in his skull wouldn’t close, and his injured eyes would not heal properly.

    It was only in 2017, when Mauritz once again went in for surgery at the Rhino Park Vet Clinic in Windhoek. He was in surgery for a total of 2 hours and 43 minutes.

    Source Harnas Wildlife Foundation
    Mauritz undergoing surgery in 2017. Source Harnas Wildlife Foundation

    In that time the old bone was removed and his scalp cleaned. It took 62 stitches to close the head up again, with 24 tension-relief cuts and two drainage pipes in his head, and a further two surgeries were required on his eyes.

    “He was at the clinic for weeks. When he finally came home, he was looking good and has not needed surgery since. Caretakers still attend to him every day, but medical care is not needed on a daily basis,” said Steenhoudt.

    Remarkably, Mauritz not only survived, but recovered. His brother Max was not so lucky. In January 2016, Max was found dead, having also been mauled by a competing predator.

    “Releasing animals, such as Max and Mauritz, in the wild, always involves taking chances. They have to fend for themselves and are faced with the dangers of living in the wild. Max and Mauritz lived wild and free for nearly five years and this is something to be so proud of,” said Steenhoudt. 

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