Cheetah Experience Ashia near Cape Town has joined forces with Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, Free State/South Africa, a registered non-profit endangered species sanctuary and ethical breeding center, founded in 2010.
The combined Mission of our two projects is to raise awareness of the vulnerability of the cheetah and other endangered species through educational experiences, as well as ethically breeding cheetahs in captivity. The cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat. A study published recently by the Zoologocal Society of London has confirmed that cheetah numbers have crashed and that the world’s fastest land animal is sprinting toward extinction, now covering only 23% of the historic range in Africa (“Sprinting towards extinction? Cheetah numbers crash globally” December 26, 2016
https://phys.org/news/2016-12-sprinting-extinction-cheetah-globally.html). Only about 7.100 cheetahs are left in the wild on our planet. According to World Wildlife Fund (http://www.worldwildlife.org/), the rapid loss of wildlife species today is estimated to be up to 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate (http://wwf.panda.org)
Factors that are threatening their survival include:
- Ongoing growth of human populations and unsustainable consumer lifestyles
- Loss of habitat and decrease of prey
- Conflict with farmers over livestock
- Illegal wildlife trade & poaching
- Reduced ability to survive in protected areas due to presence of bigger predators like lion and hyena.
- Fragmentation of population leading to inbreeding and number depletions
- Lack of self-sustaining captive population
- Public lack of knowledge
SOME OF THESE FACTS CAN’T BE REVERSED OR STOPPED, THE FARMING INDUSTRY WILL CONTINUE TO GROW ALONGSIDE THE HUMAN POPULATION.
SO WHAT CAN BE DONE?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TODAY TO BE INVOLVED IN CONSERVATION?
It can. Every cheetah counts, given their declining numbers. Safeguarding their genetic diversity is crucial for their survival. Captive breeding in scientifically based ethical programmes play an integral role in the conservation of the cheetah species and they raise awareness and engage people with the conservation efforts. They help to increase cheetah numbers and provide an insurance policy against worst case scenario of extinction in unprotected areas. They allow us to study animal and breeding behaviours as well as health related matters that can help wild populations. They support future genetic diversity of the cheetah through DNA Testing.
It can. The more people know about the threats they face the more people will join forces to save them. At Cheetah Experience Ashia we are therefore taking the next step: The construction of the Ashia Education Centre has already started and we are looking forward to invite schools and share our project and our efforts with the next generation as well as the community. The new centre will also enable us to hold informative and educational lectures during Company and Private Events, to host leading conservation players and university researchers willing to share the latest news in conservation and research with interested guests.
As we will support universities in their wildlife research efforts our dedicated volunteer house is not only hosting volunteers from around the world but also students and scientists to provide them with the needed space and ease to conduct animal or sustainability studies within our project. Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein will also be opening a 24hr emergency Wildlife Veterinary Clinic in 2017. We do not have a formal volunteer program in place for the clinic at this point, but will also – over the next few months – be opening up opportunities for qualified Vets and Vet Nurses to volunteer in the clinic.
Contrary to our non-profit partner Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, at Ashia we have a “business” approach. So, nothing wrong with that!
First of all, none of it leaves the project and will only be used to serve the achievement of our set goal – Funding and Supporting Wildlife Conservation. We will provide a yearly budget to back either carefully selected conservation & research projects or new technologies (GPS tracking devices, acoustic monitoring, long-lasting batteries for camera traps etc.) that can benefit conservation programmes. To this end we address research teams and conservation players as well as the people on the ground which on a daily basis experience the dangers and needs cheetahs face in the wild and call for support – as money is always their limiting factor. We are truly grateful to all our supporters and donators but we can’t and won’t only rely on donations, grants or fundraising schemes but will continuously thrive to find new business models that generate revenue for large-scale and long-term successful conservation purposes.
The “face” of our project reflects the high standards set by one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We address the high-end traveller, passionate about animals and nature, eager to learn more about the threats both face, willing to engage, support our set goal for the same reasons we do and looking for a purposeful experience.
We want to connect our visitors with wildlife, infect them with our passion for small and big cats – in a safe and stunning environment. Our enclosures are double or triple the size requested by Cape Nature, our volunteer house provides more luxury than offered at most volunteer projects, our guest accommodations meet the demands of the high-end traveller and the results of our sustainable farming efforts will hopefully provide one or the other delicacy to be enjoyed at the dam overlooking Drakenstein Mountains.
Our project is passionate and dedicated to the welfare of our animals and the support of conservation of the big cat species. When we talk about “Business for Conservation” it has to be said that, unfortunately, to date, eco-tourism and hunting are amongst the few – debatable – big revenue-generating mechanism for conservation. We therefore want to state that we have absolutely no links with canned hunting or any kind of hunting activities. We use our educational opportunities to create awareness about this terrible practice – we DO NOT raise lion cubs and we keep 3 rescued adult male lions on the Bloemfontein premises for educational purposes only. We are happy to provide you with a signed declaration to this effect.