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Cheetah Outreach in SW reopens

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After months of lockdown restrictions Cheetah Outreach is finally open to the public again.

But the small eco-tourism business, situated in Somerset West, has been severely affected by lack of visitors and funds, and have survived only by their extensive ex-volunteer committee who have donated funds to keep them going.

Dawn Glover of Cheetah Outreach explained the facility’s focus on the conservation of the free-ranging cheetah and mitigation of farmer-predator conflict in the home range of the cheetah in South Africa.

The cheetah reserve has a public facility housing 10 cheetah ambassadors as well as other small predators to educate locals, international tourists as well as school learners on the natural heritage and what is happening on farmlands – both the threat to the meat industry through predation and the ways in which they can assist farmers solving their problems without killing the predators, which are so important to the ecosystem and the tourism industry.

“Due to the nature of our business, Cheetah Outreach was forced to close during the majority of lockdown,” Glover said. “With no income we have struggled to pay our bills and have relied on the generosity of our extensive international ex-volunteer community who have been donating funds to allow us to look after the animals and their home during this time.”

She said most of the staff were on short-time to minimise expenses, with two top managers not taking a salary over this time.

“The budget has been cut down to a third, but it is still expensive to cover the existing costs with no money coming in from visitors. We are hoping to be able to raise awareness locally that we are open and attempting to cover expenses to keep our animals healthy and safe without having to make some heart-wrenching decisions.”

Following the announcement that the country has moved into Alert Level 1, Cheetah Outreach is now open to the public for guided tours.

These tours are subject to Covid-19 protocols to protect guests and personnel. These include wearing masks, social distancing, sanitising and limiting the number of guests at the facility at any given time.

The greater Helderberg community is urged to come out in support of Cheetah Outreach and visit for a tour.

Under current Covid-19 restrictions the facility is able to offer general tours, which consist of an introductory video of their cheetah conservation programme, followed by viewing the animals with a guide, which include cheetahs, caracal, servals, jackals, meerkats, bat-eared foxes and Anatolian shepherd dogs.

Tours generally last about an hour and advance booking is preferred to ensure a group can be accommodated.

The Enrichment Tour affords visitors the opportunity to watch some of the animals engaging in their natural behaviour. The enrichment programme provides physically and mentally stimulating activities that fall into several categories, including environmental, food, sensory, cognitive, toys, social interaction and behavioural conditioning.

Enrichment tours generally also last about an hour and are limited to three hours a day to ensure the responsiveness of the animals.

The Cheetah Experience Tour includes the opportunity to spend quality time in close proximity to one of the cheetahs. One may also have one’s photo taken with him. Social distancing will be required during the encounter and no touching of the cat will be allowed. Booking is required well in advance. During September this tour is discounted by 50%:

V All tours must be booked in advance by sending an email to bookings@cheetah.co.za or calling 082 872 4007.

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