Beautiful, fast and ... endangered. What can be done to save these magnificent animals from extinction? You can visit 2 innovative Cheetah projects in northern KwaZulu-Natal and enjoy personal encounters while supporting a worthy cause.
The world's fastest land mammal is finding it hard to thrive under difficult circumstances. These elegant cats are not aggressive and would rather take off than fight. Cheetahs do best in areas where they can conceal themselves from other predators. Wide plains with long grass, bushes and thick vegetation are ideal but these habitats are now few and far between in the wild.
Why are Cheetahs endangered?
Several factors contribute to the declining Cheetah population. Loss of prey, hunting and persecution from other species (including man) plus a shrinking habitat are taking their toll. Disease and high cub mortality are also major problems which stem from a reduced gene pool.
As a result of inbreeding, about a third of wild male Cheetahs are born sterile and major organ failure is taking the lives of many newborn cubs. Cheetah numbers are dropping radically every year and without intervention these amazing creatures will become critically endangered.
Rescue and rehabilitation
In northern KwaZulu-Natal there are 2 projects in place which are working to rescue and rehabilitate Cheetahs (and other wild cats) with the long term aim of breeding from the rescued Cheetahs and releasing the cubs into the wild to boost the gene pool.Emdoneni Lodge and Cat Rehabilitation Centre
Orphaned and injured Cheetahs are cared for at the centre together with Caracals, Servals and African Wild Cats. Where possible, cubs from the Cheetahs that can breed will be released into the wild. The centre works closely with KZN Wildlife Services and there have already been a number of successful releases in nearby reserves.
You can have a wonderful personal encounter with the Cheetahs at the centre on a guided tour, learn more at the educational talks as well as join the Adopt A Cat programme. Tours are conducted in the morning and afternoon with a feeding session included in the later option. The centre relies on visitor fees, donations and the Adopt a Cat programme and maintains a Facebook profile.The Le Sueur Cheetah Project at Nambiti Hills Private Game Reserve
There are currently 3 Cheetahs and 2 adorable orphaned cubs at the Le Sueur Cheetah Project. The Cheetah cubs are being hand raised with a Leopard cub, 2 Serval kittens and a young Meerkat in the Cub Crèche. Each baby has come from difficult circumstances but they are now thriving due to the care and attention. You can meet and play with the cubs and also accompany the 2 Cheetah cubs on bush walks while they learn valuable life skills. The project relies on visitor fees, donations and sponsors and has its own Facebook page.