Save the cheetah conservation safari in South Africa
“The fastest land mammal on Earth is running the ultimate race – the race for survival,” Samara Karoo Reserve, South Africa
Cheetah are effortlessly elegant, even when kicking up dirt at top speeds. And now you have the opportunity to encounter up close the fastest creatures on earth! Committed to responsible travel, Ker & Downey® Africa’s 13-day Cheetah Conservation LuxVenture itinerary is the latest in their series of conservation safaris.
Designed for those seeking a more meaningful experience, these pioneering tours place travellers in the heart of the action. Thereby inviting them to actively participate in conservation initiatives and leave a positive legacy in Africa.
See why the cheetah is one of Africa’s most extraordinary cats, and plays an important role in our ecosystem:
- Ultimate race for survival
- Ashia reintroducing cheetahs
- Track Wild Cheetah Karoo
- Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre education adventure
- Game-rich Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge
- Cheetah fun facts you need to know
ULTIMATE RACE FOR SURVIVAL
“Highly endangered cheetah populations are decreasing due to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and the illegal exotic pet trade,” says Sarah Morris, Ker & Downey® Africa General Manager, Private Clients.“ South Africa is the only country in the world with a significantly increasing population of wild cheetahs.
With fewer than 7,500 cheetahs left in the wild, the level of cub poaching is wreaking a devastating effect on biodiversity and threatening cheetahs with local extinction within the next 10 years.
Cheetahs live in African grasslands and they are considered the top of their food chain. If cheetahs became extinct, their ecosystem would be jeopardised. This because the wildlife they hunt would no longer be at healthy populations. It would result in too many herbivores, causing a negative impact, including: a loss of vegetation, soil erosion and less available water. Basically we would see trophic cascades (entire ecosystems removed or reduced) occurring.
A comprehensive assessment of cheetah populations in southern Africa reveals the critical state of one of the planet’s most iconic big cats. An international group of scientists presents evidence that realistic population estimates of cheetah in southern Africa are lower than previously recognised and that their population decline support a call to list the cheetah as “Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The study is published in the open-access journal PeerJ.
This itinerary aims to bring awareness to the incredible work being done to support this endangered species, while directly supporting the sanctuaries and conservation initiatives included in the trip.”
ASHIA REINTRODUCING CHEETAHS
This adventure begins in Cape Town, where travellers will stay at the historic Cape Grace hotel for 3 nights. In between exploring the Mother City and Cape Winelands, guests will visit the world-class Ashia Cheetah Center in Paarl.
Here, guests will learn about the sanctuary’s mission to reintroduce cheetahs to reserves and national parks in southern Africa. And, a sure highlight is witnessing /photographing these high speed creatures in full flight as part of their daily exercise schedule. *This activity is completely based on the cheetah’s schedule and willingness to run.
The sanctuary offers visitors invaluable education insight pertaining their endangered status. Ashia with African origins means hope and life, and here they really serve cheetahs a purpose!
Ashia does not support the cheetah petting industry or the keeping of releasable cheetah in captivity! In fact Ashia Adheres To Fair Trade Tourism Safety Protocols & A No-Touch Policy With The Cats On All Activities.
TRACK WILD CHEETAH KAROO
The conservation safari continues at Samara Karoo Reserve in the Great Karoo – an award-winning reserve. And, it is undoubtedly, a highlight of this eye-opening conservation itinerary. During your stay you will have the unique opportunity to track wild cheetah on foot, and hear the story of the late world famous cheetah, Sibella.
She is one of the most celebrated cats in conservation history! Born wild in North West province, Sibella was rehomed in Samara in 2003. At the tender age of two, she was captured and tortured by hunters. However, rescued she was the first cheetah to be reintroduced to the Great Karoo in 130 years. Her story was a truly triumphant one, and Sibella went on to raise an astonishing 19 cubs in the wild.
Samara encompasses not only the Karoo mountain complex and parts of the Great Escarpment, but also sweeping plains to create a unique area for wildlife. It also includes four of South Africa’s seven natural biomes. It is home to a variety of buck, birdlife and smaller carnivores, including the African wild cat and brown hyena. But is most famous for its Cheetah! Although, the Samara experience is certainly about more than ticking sightings boxes.
ANN VAN DYK CHEETAH CENTRE
Next up is an education adventure you don’t want to miss. Fly to to Johannesburg and spend an afternoon at the Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Center – a non-profit conservation and research organization committed to the conservation and survival of the species.
This centre was the first establishment in the world to breed captive cheetahs on a sustainable basis. And, it was the first Cites (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) approved cheetah breeding facility in the world.
The Centre not only cares for, breeds and rehabilitates animals, but plays a vital role in educating our children and communities about them. This through sharing a strong message of conservation and respect for African wildlife.
The Centre’s work is crucial to ensuring the long-term prosperity of our precious big cats.
At the Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre they strive to always put animals’ interests first and they will not compromise their health or safety in any way. They therefore no longer offer ambassador interactions / touching to the public.
CHITWA CHITWA PRIVATE GAME LODGE
The safari adventure then comes to a close with a few unforgettable nights at the luxurious Chitwa Chitwa in the game-rich Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve.
This benchmark eco-lodge presents prime wildlife opportunities and interactions as it happens. And hopefully it includes some spell-binding cheetah sightings. Your guides include expert rangers and experienced Shangaan trackers, privy to an ancient art and science of animal tracking.
After its classic transformation into an eclectic blend of European style with African chic, Chitwa Chitwa has emerged as an exquisite balance between unbridled luxury and environmental harmony, an oasis of conservation.
Visit ker-downeyafrica.com to learn more.
CHEETAH FUN FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Different from other big cats:
Unsheathed claws are less retractile than those of other cats.
Their bird like chirp or whistling call is unlike any other cat call.
They are diurnal where as other cats are nocturnal.
They can reach up to 100 kms/h – making it the fastest land mammal.
A coalition of cheetah.
Unlike some other cats, cheetahs are born with their characteristic spots. They are also born with underlying fur around their neck, called a mantle. This gives them a little mane that is often speculated to mimic that of a honey badger, one of the most feared animals around. As the cheetah grows older, and out of the “danger zone” this mantle will be shed.
Females have home ranges that overlap those of other females, while the males will have territories that they scent mark and defend. Males patrol their territories looking for females in estrus, and once the female has accepted the male, they will mate for roughly 2-4 days.
How cheetahs hunt:
Cheetahs are diurnal animals and hunt when most of the other predators are not active. This reduces the risk of their kill being stolen and confrontation with other predators. Cheetah being the fastest land mammal deploys a huge amount of energy getting up to high speeds whilst hunting.
Their gestation period is approximately 90-98 days.
At what age do the cubs leave their mothers?
Cubs leave their mom between 13-20 months. If there is more than 1 male in the litter, the males will normally form a coalition, otherwise males will be solitary. Unlike males, females are solitary and will tend to avoid each other, although there are records of females in the Serengeti forming small coalitions. The first 18 months of a cub’s life are extremely important, as they need to learn to hunt and also avoid other big predators as they are the weakest of the big cats.
At what age do cheetahs reach maturity?
Females will usually reach maturity at about 20-24 months and males at about 12 months, although males usually won’t mate until they are about 3 years old.
No, cheetah’s breed throughout the year and can have litters of up to 8 cubs, although litters of 2-4 are more common.