The Faces of Ashia 2018-04-04T17:25:34+00:00


Chantal Rischard & Stephan Illenberger

Co-founders & Directors Cheetah Experience Ashia

Chantal and Stephan are co-founders of Cheetah Experience Ashia and member of the Board of Directors. Chantal was born in Luxemburg and with her German husband, Stephan, they spent most of their business life based in Europe. Both have always dreamed of living in South Africa, getting involved in conservation of endangered species and following their passion for wildlife photography.

Since they shared an equal enthusiasm for big cats, especially the cheetah, their travels brought them to Southern Africa with increasing frequency. In 2015 they made Cape Town their home as a base for further exploration where, their dream of becoming personally involved in animal conservation was revived.

When meeting with Riana it became obvious that their passion and love for animals was shared. Chantal & Stephan then decided to combine their dream with ‘The Cheetah Lady’ – and to fully finance the purchase of the farm and the establishment of Cheetah Experience Ashia.


Riana van Nieuwenhuizen

Riana is the founder of Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, co-founder of Cheetah Experience Ashia and member of the Board of Directors. She is one of the leading “Cheetah Ladies” in South Africa with a passion to educate people about these endangered animals. Riana is committed to ensuring that the South African cheetah population’s chances of survival are strongly improved through strengthening blood lines and is pressing for DNA testing and the establishment of a stud book in the country to make breeding ethical.

Encouraged by the success and public response towards her project in Bloemfontein Riana realised her dream of procuring a safe haven near Cape Town for her hand raised ambassador cheetahs and animals in need alike.

Her motto is “HEAL“ (Help Endangered Animals Live). Read her story on www.cheetahexperience.com

Cheetah Experience is a big cat centre based in Bloemfontein (Free State, South Africa) that was founded with the intention of assisting in the prevention of the further decline of cheetah populations. For this reason its long-term goal is to ethically breed cheetahs, in unison with other cheetah conservation projects, in an attempt to ensure viable genetic diversity.

Founded to help to prevent the further decline of the cheetah population, Cheetah Experience Ashia in unison with Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein supports conservation initiatives including the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)’s ‘Cheetah Meta-Population Project’, as well as cooperation with existing wildlife reserves with the purpose of releasing cheetahs back into the ‘protected wild’.


Elmarie Verwey

Elmarie Verwey Farm Manager Cheetah Experience Ashia

Her motto is CARE – creating a farm where the focus is on Conservation, Agriculture, Rehabilitation and Education.

Elmarie first got in contact with Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein in 2010 through a friend who completed a documentary on Riana’s life with cheetahs. Working in the UK at the time as a registered nurse and occupational health practitioner, she always had a passion for animals, taking every opportunity to volunteer at Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein when visiting family in South Africa. Ellie moved back to South Africa in 2013 after 13 years in the UK where Cheetah Experience soon became her home. She continued to work remotely as occupational health advisor until the end of 2016.

Ellie comes from a family with an agricultural background. Her parents and siblings all are involved in fields such as biology, agriculture, landscaping – all sharing a deep love for animals.

Ellie is now the full-time Farm Manager at Cheetah Experience Ashia. She manages and oversees daily farm operations, and the tending of the gardens. She loves animals, the outdoors and people. She is enjoying being involved in an eco-friendly, self-sustainable project – working in and with the community to raise awareness of the importance of a balanced eco system. She believes it is our vital role and responsibility in conservation to protect nature and wildlife, especially for endangered species such as the cheetah. She has been able to combine all of her passions at Cheetah Experience Ashia.


Kerry Boughton

Kerry Boughton Animal Welfare & Volunteer Programme Manager at Cheetah Experience Ashia

Having had the opportunity to experience the majesty of these amazing animals, and to be allowed the privilege of working so closely with them, made her realise her passion to want to save this fragile species.

Kerry first travelled from Australia to South Africa in 2011. She volunteered at Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, falling in love with the animals there – especially the cheetahs. In 2014, after 20 years in the nursing profession, she left Australia behind. Her two dogs in tow, she moved to Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein.

Kerry is responsible for managing the overall well-being of the cheetahs and runs the volunteer booking program. She jumped at the opportunity to be able to work at Cheetah Experience Ashia, ensuring the smooth transition of the cheetahs. She focuses on providing an amazing opportunity for the volunteers at the Cape Town project.


Lize-Mari Prinsloo

Lize-Mari loves to be able to work so closely with the cheetahs and focus her attention on providing a high standard of care and an enriching environment for the cheetahs at Cheetah Experience Ashia.

Lize-Mari first volunteered at Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein in 2013, whilst studying for her Bachelor of Science Degree (majoring in tourism, biology and botany).

During her final year of studying, she continued to volunteer in her free time. Upon graduating in 2014, Lize-Mari became a full-time staff member at Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein. Aside from the knowledge and experience she has to offer, she is incredibly passionate about cheetahs and other big cats.
Lize-Mari coordinates the staff and volunteers in order to provide daily care and enrichment for our cheetahs.


Arielle Beaudry

Arielle first discovered her passion for big cats at Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein in November 2016, where she met Chantal and heard about the dream that Chantal and her husband shared with Riana. Arielle loved the idea of having a cheetah conservation project on a working farm and eagerly jumped at the opportunity to volunteer at Cheetah Experience Ashia in September 2017. At Ashia, the animals stole her heart! She gladly accepted the role of Volunteer Coordinator and left her job in Canada to move to South Africa in February 2018. She is excited to apply her knowledge in conservation and ecology from her university degree, while caring for such amazing animals.

Arielle is the Volunteer Coordinator at Ashia and she looks forward to sharing her passion, as well as discovering the beauty of the Western Cape with all the volunteers!


Kate Lindop

Kate first volunteered at Cheetah Experience in Bloemfontein in April 2017 and fell in love with the project and the animals. At the time she was taking a sabbatical from her career in the UK, but on returning to England she left her position to pursue a career working with animals – her passion and biggest dream. She was asked to help set up Cheetah Experience Ashia and so returned to South Africa in July. Ashia instantly felt like home and Kate began her new job and life on the farm in January 2018.

Kate is the Guest Manager at Ashia, which involves managing the boutique shop, visitor activities and guest accommodation. She is also one of the animal carers.

With a background in art and design, Kate also does some of the photography for social media and marketing, and produces some of the beautiful artwork you will see in our shop.


“Cheetah Experience Ashia providing hope for retired cheetahs.”