Situated less than an hour outside the metropolitan centres of Pretoria and Johannesburg is a little gem of a place every South African should have visited at least once in their lifetime, the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Research Centre (De Wildt).
When you visit De Wildt make sure you get to the Centre by 8am to witness the sprint demonstrations. I’ve spent hours trying to come up with the correct adjectives to describe the cats chasing the lure. Graceful, poetry in motion and breathtaking are just a few but none of them fully describe what you witness. The speed is phenomenal. The change of direction beyond comprehension. The distance from full speed to a complete standstill completely unbelievable! It’s one of those things that you just have to witness to believe and then you want to see it again just to be sure your eyes are not playing tricks on you! Far too many times people use the word “wow” to describe things mildly more impressive than mediocre, these animals make the word seem inadequate. Do yourselves a favour, go and see the cheetahs run.
Established in 1971, the Cheetah Centre has successfully bred more than 800 Cheetah cubs in an effort to conserve one of Africa’s most threatened large cats. We booked a place on the guided tour which is a 2 hour trip on the back of an open vehicle into the Cheetah and African Wild Dog enclosures. Included in the tour is an educational presentation about the life of other endangered species that De Wildt has on the premises: Honey Badgers, African Wild Cat, Caracal, Brown Hyena and a variety of rescued Vultures.
The Centre does not receive any government funding and is reliant on donations and income generated by the tours they offer and the adoption program.
The aim of the Centre is to maintain integrity in the gene pools of the species they breed and support; to educate young and old about the importance of animals in the ecosystem; and where feasible to re-introduce species back into their original habitats. The Centre has a proud track record of success, read all about it in Ann van Dyk’s book, “Cheetahs of De Wildt”.
Adopt a wild child and get your name up on the wall of fame! You will also receive a certificate of recognition for your donation as well as a picture of the animal you have adopted. Details on the official De Wildt website.
While we make every effort to provide factually correct information we are not responsible for any errors contained in this article. Please contact De Wildt directly if you have any questions.