Romeo ci ha lasciati…

Romeo, uno dei ghepardi residenti del Cheetah Conservation Fund , pare ci abbia lasciati.

Non conosciamo ancora i dettagli, ma solo la notizia.

Nell’attesa, gli dedichiamo un ricordo – in memoria di questo splendido, speciale amico.

Grazie alla penna di Monica Mazzola, che lo ha incontrato in Namibia.

In a warm, sunny November afternoon, among the many visitors of the Center, I met your look. You wore a hat to protect you from the sun, and dark sunglasses, and you lowered them when you saw me. 
In that very moment, I met your clear, inquisitive eyes. You were searching for mine.
I understood that you never watched a live cat  like me before.  You were staring at my vertical lines running down my face, the spots of my body, the semi-retractile claws. 
Me, Romeo, stretched out  behind the metal fence, was waiting for my feeding time, brought  in an enamelled bowl prepared by the volunteers, after the usual exciting competitive run with my brothers.
Staring attentively at the volunteer’s words, you already had hidden your face behind your camera lens, focused on shooting every detail of me.
You were quite moved by the narrative, hearing me purring and observing my brothers’ restlessness before the feeding. 
You were astonished and amused too, you whispered something and made me immediately feel beautiful.
In this Conservation Center , thanks to Mom’s Laurie commitment, to the  valuable work of the many volunteers and the studies of the researchers, me and my brothers can live again. Their absolute dedication to safeguarding our species and the studies about our history has donated a second chance to all of us. We live in captivity because we were not apt to survive in the wild. 
We are cheetahs saved from dangerous situations, hurt by other animals, found abandoned  after a trophy hunting when our mom had been killed, and confiscated to humans who kept us as pets, as it is  my case. 
In this huge property we are healed, soothed and pampered, observed and released, when possible, into the wild, where we can learn again to use our primordial predatory instinct.
Running is fundamental to us. We can stalk a prey at a very fast speed, but only for a few minutes, and with our excellent sight we have to figure out which prey is the weakest. 
In spite of our abilities, we are ourselves prey to other savage predators, like the leopards, and also, regrettably, to enraged farmers, for killing their livestock. For this reason, the Center breeds our rival, the Anatolian Shepherd Guarding Dog, a strong and pugnacious dog who holds us back from attacking the flocks. 
These Turkish cubs are bred together with the goats, and they develop a strong attachment to them, preventing our predatory instinct.
In doing so, even the farmers are less inclined to take up a rifle and shoot us when we move too close.
ell me the truth, you thought you’d never have such a thrilling encounter. you still watch me behind your camera lens and I want to return your interest purring stronger and meowing a little. You still look surprised…the sound of my meow is much the same as that of domestic cats.
You get emotional now. You push briefly your face aside from the lens  and watch me. There are noises but between us there is a silent communication. Intimate moments, where time has stopped and the mind is clear, there’s only time for a special connection.
You, woman of the human species and me, wild cat of the cheetah species. Our encounter  opened up your eyes on a foreign world, made of instincts and great sensitivity. It’s a world that you somewhat already know, studying the behaviour of wolves and interacting with them. 
It’s my world, as a wild animal. You have to learn to know it and to respect it. It’s a world of voices of animals populating the savannah, but also of silence.
Not an empty silence, but crowded with  many pictures, colours and sounds developing under  an arching low sky and thousands of stars. Warm and contrasting colours, and darkness, desert and savannah, absence and presence of sounds, life and death. Endless loop.
Back home, your eyes are dazzled by artificial light, your ears full of progress’ noises. Do you understand me now? 
You are a lucky woman if you understand the secret of life that I am conveying.
Let yourself go at this mind-blowing thought, and go after your dreams.
You are in Africa. Me and you are part of the same universe.
Your eyes are watery now, I am certain you have realised the magic of our meeting. You are unique to me. It happened just in a moment, among so many visitors fascinated by the volunteers’ words.
But you have heard my call.
You, woman with hat, stay with me, keep me inside your soul. This will be the message you will disseminate, giving me a chance to survive.
You are smiling at me and I thank you for having tried to listen to my world and for what you are doing for me.
I follow you with my eyes while you go away and disappear amongst the visitors, but I am sure you will come again to say good-bye before leaving, and it will be love at first sight.
The Beauty revealed during this encounter will last forever in our minds.
You – Woman,  Me – Cheetah.



                                      ROMEO FOR MONICA – CCF NAMIBIA NOVEMBER 6, 2018

Di Monica Mazzola, Socio Sostenitore Cheetah Conservation Fund Italia

(Trad.di Betty von Hoenning)

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