News & Media Coverage

Broadcast Media

Press Articles & Latest News

National winners of the 2019 Lilizela Tourism Awards received their trophies at a glittering function. Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary wins the Provincial Ministers’ “I Do Tourism” award for the Western Cape

Nov 10, 2019

The national winners of the 2019 Lilizela Tourism Awards received their trophies at a glittering function held at the Sun Arena in Pretoria last night…

2019 Lilizela Tourism Awards National Winners

The national winners of the 2019 Lilizela Tourism Awards received their trophies at a glittering function held at the Sun Arena in Pretoria last night. The event is held annually to honour excellence in South Africa’s tourism and hospitality industry – which drives the industry to levels of greatness through providing the highest standards of service excellence.

The national awards ceremony followed nine provincial award events, which swept across the country throughout September. Of the 96 Provincial Award winners, a cross-section of 66 South African tourism establishments took national awards under eight categories.

Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane paid special tribute to South Africa’s outstanding tourism businesses, some of which have been beneficiaries of the National Department of Tourism’s market access and enterprise development programmes.

“Thank you to the men and women who, in their area of work, go the extra mile to ensure that tourists that travel to our country enjoy a memorable experience. Providing real authentic experiences to tourists is what will sustain and grow our tourism sector. All of us should do this cognisant of the fact that tourists have no obligation to choose South Africa as a tourist destination,” she said.

“Tourism is a very competitive sector and demands from all of us to offer tourists a distinct, authentically South African and memorable experience so that they can return to our country again and again, or even better entice others to come along with them in their subsequent visits. As we cast our eyes into the future, we must continue to ensure that we transform our sector inclusively and to showcase more authentic and uniquely South African experiences,” concluded Kubayi-Ngubane.

This year’s awards coincide with South Africa’s 25 years of democracy commemorations and honoured the tourism excellence born as a result of this phenomenal history. In support of Government’s efforts to promote sustainable tourism and youth employment, a Sustainability Village showcased SA’s arts and craft.

The Minister and other special guests toured the Sustainable Village curated space for selected black-owned businesses to market their products at the venue, all of which are proudly made in South Africa. Many of their products are also inspired by South African culture and heritage and are beautifully handcrafted using sustainable materials which is why we are proud to support this initiative.

While Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary won the Provincial Ministers’ “I Do Tourism” award for the Western Cape, Curiosity Backpackers was awarded the National accolade. Introduced in 2018, this award recognises proudly South African organisations or individuals who, through sheer dedication and passion, have excelled in positioning the country as a tourism destination of choice, contributing to the vibrancy and growth of the sector.

Established in 2013, the Lilizela Tourism Awards are an initiative of the National Department of Tourism and are spearheaded by South African Tourism. The awards recognise and reward exemplary service among businesses in the local tourism sector, ranging from accommodation establishments and tour operators to scenic attractions and cultural heritage sites. The Lilizela Tourism Awards are adjudicated through public votes and by a panel of industry judges and are audited by Nexia SAB&T.

Entry to the Lilizela National Tourism Awards is free and tourism businesses of all sizes are encouraged to enter in a bid to help develop, grow and transform the industry while celebrating its achievements.

Ashia Cheetah Conservation passes another milestone for cheetah breeding, wilding and release project

Nov 08, 2019

Ashia Cheetah Conservation NPO and Kuzuko Lodge – have attained yet another conservation milestone with the recent…

Another Milestone for Cheetah Breeding, Wilding and Release Project

The team behind the Cheetah Breeding, Wilding and Release Project – Ashia Cheetah Conservation NPO and Kuzuko Lodge – have attained yet another conservation milestone with the recent translocation of a wilded cheetah male from Kuzuko to Amakhala Game Reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.

Following the release of the first captive-born cheetah at Kuzuko Lodge in August 2018, an additional four adult and two sub-adult captive-born cheetahs had been translocated by Ashia to Kuzuko and two of the females had given birth in the breeding section.

All adult cats brought to Kuzuko and released on one of the wilding sections after a short boma-period showed surprisingly fast first hunting successes. Their further development was, and continues to be, closely monitored and documented.

“Kuzuko was in need of a female cheetah last year, and while waiting for one to be sourced by the EWT, with whom we have been working closely with since our inception, we were contacted by Ashia Cheetah Conservation with the possibility of receiving a once captive and hand-raised female and to wild her,” says Gerhard de Lange, General Manager at Kuzuko Private Game Reserve.

“Realising the need for cheetahs in other protected wildlife areas, throughout Southern Africa, we entered into further negotiations with Ashia and started planning the Breeding, Wilding and Release Project in partnership with Ashia. The male that has now been released at Amakhala Game Reserve was the first captive-born male to arrive at Kuzuko and has been successfully wilded through this partnership,” de Lange says.

The hundred per cent self-sustaining cat found a new home within the South African Cheetah Metapopulation managed by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). The 5-year-old male cheetah had been translocated in mid-September to a lion-free area of Amakhala Game Reserve and will hopefully father many cubs with the already present wild female.

“I can’t put into words how proud I am of this boy and his incredible development. As a cub and into adulthood he was used to interacting with tourists but at some stage refused to be touched. From the very first moment that I saw him, I could sense his special and strong personality. Gerhard de Lange immediately fell in love with this cat, and Gerhard is not known to show emotions when it comes to conservation,” says Chantal Rischard, Founder of Ashia.

The release of captive-bred animals has become an important conservation tool for restoring threatened and endangered wildlife populations. The translocation of animals for conservation purposes requires in-depth planning to ensure the long-term chances for survival of the released animals.

“The release of captive-born animals not only requires a profound check of future release sites but also a very careful choice of the most promising cats. Although this male didn’t have the best start in life, my husband and I decided to acquire him and at least offer him the chance to become wild and free. I truly believe that the history of a cat is of no importance, only its way forward is. If a cat shows the right signs we go to any lengths to secure it a promising future, no matter its past”, adds Rischard.

Release sites are carefully chosen by Ashia and a wide range of factors are taken into account. Amakhala met all of Ashia’s requirements, but it was their dedicated team and strong conservation initiatives that convinced Ashia of having found a perfect place for the first cheetah to leave Kuzuko and the wilding programme.

“Wild, free-roaming cheetah is a priority conservation species on Amakhala and we are very excited to be involved with this pioneering and sorely needed wilding project. We are also proud to be working with Ashia, Kuzuko and the EWT in furthering the cheetah metapopulation genetic scope. This male will feel the Bushmans River valley sands beneath his feet as he strides free across the plains and that is a win for conservation. Well done Ashia and Kuzuko for doing what is often spoken about but rarely practised”, says Mark Palmer, Reserve General Manager of Amakhala Game Reserve.

The Breeding, Wilding and Release Project primarily focuses on the wilding and introduction of captive-bred cheetahs and their offspring into the protected wild. The ultimate purpose is to strengthen the gene pool and to secure a viable cheetah metapopulation in South Africa, in order to prevent the further decline of cheetah numbers in the wild, ready to start their future life on other game reserves.

“Very soon, the next cats will leave the wilding sections and hopefully start new families with the wild males and females waiting for them on other game reserves”, concludes de Lange.

Nov 04, 2019

There’s a new home and new love for a pioneer cheetah. After her initial time in the boma at Kuzuko, Jasmin was released onto…

Successfully wilded female cheetah makes her way to Limpopo

There’s a new home and new love for a pioneer cheetah.

In the last week of October 2019 Jasmin, the successfully wilded five-year old female cheetah who was the very first to have entered the Breeding, Wilding and Release Project, was translocated from Legacy Hotels & Resorts’ Kuzuko Lodge in the Eastern Cape to Makutsi Safari Springs near Hoedspruit, Limpopo.

The project was originally set up in late 2018 on Kuzuko’s main reserve as a joint initiative by Ashia Cheetah Conservation in Paarl, Western Cape and Kuzuko Lodge in the greater Addo Area, Eastern Cape.

Jasmin’s story

After her initial time in the boma at Kuzuko, Jasmin was released onto one of the vast ‘wilding’ sections where it took her a mere ten days to successfully catch her first prey. Although Jasmin was raised in human care before entering the Wilding Project, supplement feeding was soon no longer necessary as she clearly proved to the team that she can sustain and fend for herself.

“Jasmin is not the first wilded cat to leave our Wilding Project, but as she was the first one to enter it, we waited for a perfect home for her. This opportunity came up when Makutsi, a privately-owned game reserve near the Kruger National Park, needed a female cheetah for their wild male Mavara.

After visiting Makutsi and talking to the owner, Heike Weber, as well as to guide Daniel Brandao, who has extensive experience with cheetah, we were convinced that we couldn’t find a better place for Jasmin on a reserve that forms part of South Africa’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project.

Makutsi’s whole approach to wildlife is conservation oriented and their motto, ‘Animals always come first!’, beautifully reflects ours at Ashia,” says Chantal Rischard, Founder of Ashia.

Commenting on Jasmin’s move, Legacy Hotels & Resorts’ Marketing Manager, Robert Hodson reiterated how Jasmin’s story is reflected in the Legacy story.

Integrating into Makutsi

Once at Makutsi and after a short boma period, Jasmin will meet the resident wild male on a separate 1,300 ha area on the reserve. Apart from an occasional leopard and some crocodiles on this part of the Makutsi reserve, it is otherwise predator-free and supports a high number, as well as a variety, of prey. Both cheetahs have been fitted with collars and will be tracked and monitored regularly.

“The wild male arrived at Makutsi a couple of months ago. He had been poached in the wild but was lucky to be confiscated by official authorities. Both his front and hind legs had been tied together with wire, causing severe damage to his lower legs.

Wildlife veterinarian Dr. Peter Caldwell saved this beautiful male, having performed three several-hour long surgeries to restore nerves, tendons and blood vessels in all four legs, followed by skin grafting. Mavara spent about six months at Old Chapel Veterinary Clinic and miraculously recovered fully due to the skilled care of Dr. Caldwell.

Despite his traumatic injuries, the approximately five-year old male was successfully hunting again soon after his arrival, and the presence of a female was the only missing part for a happy life,” explains Heike Weber, owner of Makutsi.

Following the rescue and successful veterinary treatments of Mavara, the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Metapopulation Coordinator, Vincent Van Der Merwe found a new home for him on Makutsi and organised his translocation to this stunning game reserve that has been welcoming guests for over thirty years. Surrounded by thousands of hectares of private bushveld, Jasmin and Mavara face a promising future and will hopefully be the founders of many cheetah dynasties.

“As Jasmin was the first cheetah to enter the programme, we are extremely excited to see her go off into her new home. She was our first successfully wilded animal and many more have consequently followed in her footsteps with our unique and pioneering hands-off Wilding Project. This programme is designed for cheetahs and to limit human contact with them as much as possible. So far it has yielded fantastic results, and very fast too, with seven cheetahs already having been wilded successfully through this unique approach,” states Gerhard de Lange, Kuzuko Reserve General Manager.

Jasmin vrygelaat en vang lste prooi

Nov 02, 2019

’n Jagluiperdwye wat in die Oos—Kaap in gevangenskap gebore is, is vandeesweek met welslae in ‘n reservaat in Limpopo vrygelaat…

Jasmin vrygelaat en vang lste prooi

Ellse Tempelhoff

’n Jagluiperdwyfie wat in die Oos-Kaap in gevangenskap gebore is, is vandeesweek met welslae in ‘n reservaat in Limpopo vrygelaat.

Sy het baie gou alle tekens gewys dat sy steeds ’n wilde jagluiperd is, het Kristy Pienaar van Ashia Cheetah Conservation (ACC), gister kort na Jasmin se vrylating gesê.

Nou wag almal volgens Pienaar op ’n liefdesverhaal. Jasmin is vyf jaar gelede gebore en het verlede jaar deel geword van ‘n projek wat daarop gemik is om jagluiperds in die natuur vry te laat. Die projek is ‘n gesamentlike inisiatief van die Kuzuko Game Lodge in die groter Addogebied in die Oos Kaap en ACC, wat in die Wes Kaap gelee is.

Jasmin was die eerste half mak jagluiperd wat deur die projek ingeneem is.
Sy is aanvanklik op Kuzuko in ’n boma aangehou en later in ’n groot wildernisgebied by Kuzuko vrygelaat.

Net tien dae na haar vrylating het sy haar eerste prooi gevang. Hierna was dit nie weer nodig 0m haar enige byvoeding te gee nie.

’n Groter tuiste is toe vir Jasmin gesoek. Dié geleentheid het gou gekom toe die eienaars van Makutsi, ’n private natuurreservaat in Limpopo naby die Krugerwildtuin, die eienaars van Kuzuko genader het met ‘n versoek om ’n wyfie vir hul jagluiperdmannetjie, Mavara, het ACC in ’n verklaring gesê.

Heike Weber, Kuzuko se eienaar, en Daniel Brandao, veldgids, het Makutsi eers besoek om seker te maak dit kan die perfekte permanente tuiste vir Jasmin word.

Chantal Rischard, stigter van Ashia, het na die besoek gesê hulle kon nie aan ’n beter tuiste vir Jasmin dink nie.

Pienaar sê die jagluiperdmannetjie het sy eie tragiese verhaal. Mavara, ’n Wilde jagluiperd, is ’n paar maande gelede deur wildbewaringsamptenare uit die hande van stropers gered en na Makutsi gebring.

Hy was in ’n ellendige toestand. Sowel sy voor- as agterpote was met draad vasgebind. Dit het ernstige skade aan sy onderbene aangerig.

Dr. Peter Caldwell, wildveearts, het hierdie “pragtige jagluiperdmannetjie se lewe gered deur verskeie operasies op hom uit te voer. In dié operasies is senuwee-eindpunte, senings en bloedvate herstel.

Mavara het sowat ses maande in die Old Chapel-veeartsenykliniek deurgebring en wonderbaarlik ten volle herstel,” lui die verklaring.

Ondanks sy traumatiese beserings het die vyfjarige jagluiperd met welslae op Makutsi begin gejag waarheen hy met die hulp van die Trust vir Bedreigde Spesies (EWT) gebring is.

Vincent van der Merwe, die EWT se koördineerder van die eenheid vir die metabevolkings van jagluiperds, het vir Mavara se hervestiging gesorg.
“Die enigste deel wat nog kortkom vir ’n gelukkige lewe vir Mavara is die teenwoordigheid van ’n vrou,” het Weber gesé. “Omring deur duisende hektaar Bosveld wink daar nou ’n blink toekoms vir Jasmin en Mavara en sal hulle hopelik vir ‘n ryk nageslag sorg.”

Jasmin sal nou nog vir ’n ruk in ’n boma bly, maar sal binne kort vrygelaat word. Daar is genoeg prooi vir haar en Mavara op die reservaat. Albei het elektroniese halsbande en hul bewegings sal fyn dopgehou word.

Gerhard de Lange, Kuzuko se bestuurder, het gesê die program in samewerking met die Ashia bewaringsorganisasie is ontwerp vir die hervestiging van jagluiperds in die natuur en om kontak met mense waar moontlik te vermy.

Sewe jagluipers is reeds in diè kort tyd deur die program in die natuur vrygelaat.

Jasmin, once captive is now successfully wilded. She is the very first to have entered the Breeding, Wilding and Release Project, and was translocated from Legacy Hotels & Resorts’ Kuzuko Lodge in the Eastern Cape to Makutsi Safari Springs near Hoedspruit, Limpopo.

Oct 08, 2019

“Jasmin is not the first wilded cat to leave our Wilding Program, but as she was the first one to enter it, we waited for a perfect home for her…

New Home for Pioneer Cheetah Jasmin

The first successfully wilded female cheetah makes her way to Makutsi, Limpopo.

Makutsi Safari Springs, Limpopo – October 2019: In the last week of October 2019 Jasmin, the successfully wilded five-year-old female cheetah who was the very first to have entered the Breeding, Wilding and Release Project, was translocated from Legacy Hotels & Resorts’ Kuzuko Lodge in the Eastern Cape to Makutsi Safari Springs near Hoedspruit, Limpopo.

The project was originally set up in late 2018 on Kuzuko’s main reserve as a joint initiative by Ashia Cheetah Conservation in Paarl, Western Cape and Kuzuko Lodge in the Greater Addo Area, Eastern Cape.

After her initial time in the boma at Kuzuko, Jasmin was released onto one of the vast ‘wilding’ sections where it took her a mere ten days to successfully catch her first prey. Although Jasmin was raised in human care before entering the Wilding Project, supplement feeding was soon no longer necessary as she clearly proved to the team that she can sustain and fend for herself.

“Jasmin is not the first wilded cat to leave our Wilding Project, but as she was the first one to enter it, we waited for a perfect home for her. This opportunity came up when Makutsi, a privately owned game reserve near the Kruger National Park, needed a female cheetah for their wild male Mavara. After visiting Makutsi and talking to the owner, Heike Weber, as well as to guide Daniel Brandao, who has extensive experience with cheetah, we were convinced that we couldn’t find a better place for Jasmin on a reserve that forms part of South Africa’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project. Makutsi’s whole approach to wildlife is conservation oriented and their motto, ‘Animals always come first!’, beautifully reflects ours at Ashia,” says Chantal Rischard, Founder of Ashia.

Commenting on Jasmin’s move, Legacy Hotels & Resorts’ Marketing Manager, Robert Hodson reiterated how Jasmin’s story is reflected in the Legacy story. “Our mission at Legacy is to create spaces and experiences for the generations of today and tomorrow to enjoy, and this project is no exception. Being part of Jasmin’s rewilding to help with the conservation of cheetahs is something we are extremely proud of and look forward to more successes in the future.”

Once at Makutsi and after a short boma period, Jasmin will meet the resident wild male on a separate 1,300 ha area on the reserve. Apart from an occasional leopard and some crocodiles on this part of the Makutsi reserve, it is otherwise predator-free and supports a high number, as well as a variety, of prey. Both cheetahs have been fitted with collars and will be tracked and monitored regularly.

“The wild male arrived at Makutsi a couple of months ago. He had been poached in the wild but was lucky to be confiscated by official authorities. Both his front and hind legs had been tied together with wire, causing severe damage to his lower legs. Wildlife veterinarian Dr Peter Caldwell saved this beautiful male, having performed three several-hour long surgeries to restore nerves, tendons and blood vessels in all four legs, followed by skin grafting. Mavara spent about six months at Old Chapel Veterinary Clinic and miraculously recovered fully due to the skilled care of Dr Caldwell. Despite his traumatic injuries, the approximately five-year-old male was successfully hunting again soon after his arrival, and the presence of a female was the only missing part for a happy life,” explains Heike Weber, owner of Makutsi.

Following the rescue and successful veterinary treatments of Mavara, the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Metapopulation Coordinator, Vincent Van Der Merwe found a new home for him on Makutsi and organised his translocation to this stunning game reserve that has been welcoming guests for over thirty years. Surrounded by thousands of hectares of private bushveld, Jasmin and Mavara face a promising future and will hopefully be the founders of many cheetah dynasties.

“As Jasmin was the first cheetah to enter the programme, we are extremely excited to see her go off into her new home. She was our first successfully wilded animal and many more have consequently followed in her footsteps with our unique and pioneering hands-off Wilding Project. This programme is designed for cheetahs and to limit human contact with them as much as possible. So far it has yielded fantastic results, and very fast too, with seven cheetahs already having been wilded successfully through this unique approach,” states Gerhard de Lange, Kuzuko Reserve General Manager.

ABOUT MAKUTSI: Makutsi Safari Springs is a privately owned game reserve located in South Africa, one hour west of the Kruger National Park and about 60km north-west of Hoedspruit. Surrounded by nature and wildlife, mineral spring water and tranquillity, Makutsi shares with its guests a little African paradise away from home. For more information visit www.makutsi.com.

ABOUT KUZUKO LODGE: Kuzuko Lodge is built high up on a hill in a 15 000ha private game reserve situated in the Malaria free greater Addo area which is situated in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. This reserve is perfectly situated to start or complete a trip along the Garden Route with. Guests are housed in 24 chalets of which three are wheelchair accessible. Kuzuko is part of the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group and is a member of the Inqo Investments Social Impact Investment Group, which combines job creation, conservation and social transformation. For more information visit www.kuzuko.com.

ABOUT ASHIA: Ashia is a world-class cheetah sanctuary outside Paarl in South Africa’s Western Cape, a mere 45-minute drive from Cape Town. Founded in 2016, Ashia lies nestled at the foot of the dramatic Drakenstein mountains and has been certified by Fair Trade Tourism. A visit or volunteer stay at Ashia offers in-depth educational experiences about small and big cats in human care and cheetah conservation in action. Ashia it is a not-for-profit undertaking all surplus is used to fund Ashia Cheetah Conservation NPC which is financing the Breeding, Wilding and Release Project, linking Wildlife Conservation and Human Welfare. Ashia’s goal is to help prevent the further decline of cheetah populations and strengthen their genetics through captive breeding programs. Captive born and wilded cheetahs are released on selected Game Reserves in South Africa. The relatedness of the reserve populations has become an issue and preventing inbreeding without supplementation from outside populations will be practically impossible. Ashia does not support any cheetah trade. All releases take place at own costs.

Ashia/Kuzuko Program sees another landmark in conservation achievement with the first translocation of a captive-born and once tame male cheetah from the Kuzuko wilding section to his final release site.

Oct 03, 2019

September last year saw a landmark conservation achievement with the start of the Breeding…

Translocation of successfully wilded male cheetah from Kuzuko to Amakhala

Makhanda – September last year saw a landmark conservation achievement with the start of the Breeding, Wilding and Release Project set up by Ashia and Kuzuko Lodge.

Six months into the project, five adult and two sub-adult captive-born cheetah had been translocated by Ashia to Kuzuko and two of the females had given birth in the breeding section. All adult cats brought to Kuzuko and released on one of the wilding sections after a short boma-period showed surprisingly fast first hunting successes.

Their further development was and is closely monitored and documented. The team behind the Ashia/Kuzuko Project is proud to announce that September 2019 sees another landmark in conservation achievement with the first translocation of a captive-born and once tame male cheetah from the Kuzuko wilding section to his final release site.

“Kuzuko was in need of a female cheetah, last year, and while waiting for one to be sourced by the EWT, with whom we have been working closely with since our inception, we were contacted by Ashia Cheetah Conservation with the possibility of receiving a once captive and hand-raised female and to wild her.

“Realising the need for cheetahs in other protected wildlife areas, throughout Southern Africa, we entered into further negotiations with Ashia and started planning the Breeding, Wilding and Release Project in partnership with Ashia. The male that went now to Amakhala Game Reserve was the first captive-born male to arrive at Kuzuko and has been successfully wilded through this partnership”, says Gerhard de Lange, Kuzuko Private Game Reserve General Manager.

The hundred percent self-sustaining cat found a new home within the South African Cheetah Metapopulation managed by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). The 5 year old male cheetah has been translocated mid-September to a lion-free area of Amakhala Game Reserve and will hopefully father many cubs with the already present wild female.

“I can’t put into words how proud I am of this boy and his incredible development. As a cub and into adulthood he was used to interacting with tourists but at some stage refused to be touched. From the very first moment I saw him I could sense his special and strong personality. Gerhard de Lange immediately fell in love with this cat, and Gerhard is not known to show emotions when it comes to conservation,” says Chantal Rischard, Founder of Ashia.

The release of captive bred animals has become an important conservation tool for restoring threatened and endangered wildlife populations. The translocation of animals for conservation purposes requires in-depth planning to ensure the long-term chances for survival of the released animals.

“The release of captive-born animals does not only require a profound check of the future sites of release but also a very careful choice of the most promising cats. Although this male didn’t have the best start in life my husband and I decided to acquire him and at least offer him the chance to become wild and free. I truly believe that the history of a cat is of no importance, only its way forward is. If a cat shows the right signs we go to any lengths to secure it a promising future, no matter its past”, adds Chantal Rischard.

Release sites are carefully chosen by Ashia and a wide range of factors is taken into account. Amakhala met all of Ashia’s requirements but it was their dedicated team and strong conservation initiatives that convinced Ashia of having found a perfect place for the first cheetah to leave Kuzuko and the wilding programme.

“Wild, free-roaming cheetah are a priority conservation species on Amakhala and we are very excited to be involved with this pioneering and sorely needed wilding project. We are also proud to be working with Ashia, Kuzuko and the EWT in furthering the cheetah metapopulation genetic scope. This male will feel the Bushmans River valley sands beneath his feet as he strides free across the plains and that is a win for conservation. Well done Ashia and Kuzuko for doing what is often spoken about but rarely practised”, says Mark Palmer, Reserve General Manager of Amakhala Game Reserve.

The Breeding, Wilding and Release Project primarily focuses on the wilding and introduction of captive-bred cheetahs and their offspring into the protected wild. The ultimate purpose is to strengthen the gene pool and to secure a viable cheetah metapopulation in South Africa, in order to prevent the further decline of cheetah numbers in the wild.

“After a very exciting and educational year into our project all adult cats without cubs are ready to start their future life on other game reserves. Very soon, the next cats will leave the wilding sections and hopefully start new families with the wild males and females waiting for them on the game reserves”, closes Gerhard de Lange.

Western Cape Government Tourism and jobs article - a better future for all in the Western Cape

Sept 27, 2019

Our first stop was Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary in Paarl – this year’s winner of the Western Cape…

Tourism and jobs – a better future for all in the Western Cape

This year’s theme for World Tourism Day on the 27 September is: “Tourism and jobs – a better future”.
 
Established by the United Nations World Tourism Organization in 1980 to raise awareness on the role and impact of tourism, this day gives us the opportunity to celebrate and recognise the importance of Tourism to the economy of South Africa, and more specifically, the Western Cape.
 
The tourism sector remains the backbone of the Western Cape economy, supporting over 300 000 direct and indirect jobs in our province alone, thanks to the millions of tourists who flock to the region annually to enjoy some of the most scenic and breath-taking locations that the globe has to offer.
 
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting three fantastic tourism businesses in the Western Cape – each one showcasing a diverse range of experiences available to visitors in the province. 
 
Our first stop was Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary in Paarl – this year’s winner of the Western Cape Lilizela MEC’s Award. A world-class cheetah sanctuary and working farm, Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary has demonstrated great impact in growing sustainable tourism and creating jobs within their community. 
 
We also visited Stellenbosch Township and Village in Kayamandi which welcomes visitors into the hearts and homes of the local community, offering authentic culture-rich experiences. This business is, not only, a great example of sustainable development, but also contributes directly to job creation in the area.
 
The final stop on the tour took us back to the City of Cape Town to visit City Sightseeing Tours where we met some of the visitors to our Province experiencing the open bus tour – one of our most popular attractions – and then took a trip on their canal cruise through the V&A Waterfront – another perspective on this iconic landmark.
 
I was truly inspired to meet with the owners and employees of these businesses – each one passionate about what they do and committed to contributing to their communities and our province. 
 
Like them, every person in this industry, no matter how small, fulfils an incredibly important role in delivering a culture of service excellence which supports the tourism industry and in turn, grows our economy and creates jobs. 
 
From those who provide accommodation, to venue operators, to tour guides, to tour operators, to booking agents, to event organisers and anyone else who ensures that a visitor to the Western Cape has a great experience – you all deserve our thanks and recognition. 
 
Thanks to you:
  • the 1.7 million foreign visitors to the Western Cape annually have an unforgettable travel experience.
  • the Western Cape is frequently cited as among the world’s best holiday destinations.
  • the Western Cape has a high return visitor rate of nearly 50%, proving that those who visit our destination once, fall in love with it, and want to discover it again and again.
And, thanks to you, we can be proud to say that the city, and the province, is vibrant, captivating and open for tourism and business. 
 
For our part, the Western Cape government is committed to supporting the tourism industry:
  • Promoting the City of Cape Town and the Western Province to both domestic and international travellers,
  • Through Air Access, launching new routes, expanding existing routes, and growing seat capacity numbers at Cape Town International Airport,
  • And, working with stakeholders at all levels of government to ensure the safety of those living in South Africa and the safety of those travelling here from abroad.
So, this weekend, please go out and explore the best that the Western Cape has to offer and know that in doing so you are playing your part to support job creation in the Western Cape. 
The Lilizela Awards are well respected within the tourism industry, both locally and globally, and we are extremely proud of Ashia for this achievement.

Sept 20, 2019

Ashia in Paarl walked off with the coveted Ministerial I can do Tourism Award at…

Ashia can do tourism and shines at Lilizela awards

Ashia in Paarl walked off with the coveted Ministerial I can do Tourism Award at the prestigious Lilizela tourism awards ceremony this week.  This conservancy and working farm was only established eighteen months ago and was nominated by the Drakenstein Local Tourism Association. 

According to DLTA CEO Annelize Stroebel, Ashia has made a huge impact within a short period.  “We proudly recommended this establishment for its contribution to the growth of the local tourism industry and felt that they ticked all the boxes in this highly competitive category.”

“The Lilizela Awards are well respected within the tourism industry, both locally and globally, and we are extremely proud of Ashia for this achievement.”

The Lilizela Tourism Awards was established in 2013 and celebrate global excellence in tourism focusing on service excellence, emerging tourism entrepreneurship and sustainable tourism development.  This joint initiative between South African Tourism and the Tourism Grading Council pays tribute to those who make a remarkable contribution to tourism in South Africa. 

Celebrating at the awards ceremony are from left to right:  Mishka Patel, Annelize Stroebel – DLTA CEO, Western Cape MEC and Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier, Saskia Brown and Kirsty Pienaar from Ashia and Carike Heydenrych – DLTA marketing manager.

Ashia wins the Ministerial "I can do Tourism Award" at the Lilizela Tourism this week.

Sept 20, 2019

Ashia in Paarl walked off with the Ministerial I can do Tourism Award at the Lilizela Tourism…

Celebrating at the Lilizela Tourism Awards ceremony in Paarl this week are:

Mishka Patel, Annelize Stroebel (DLTA), David Maynier (Western Cape MEC and Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities), Saskia Brown and Kirsty Pienaar from Ashia and Carike Heydenrych (DLTA). 

Ashia in Paarl walked off with the Ministerial I can do Tourism Award at the Lilizela Tourism Awards ceremony this week. The Lilizela Awards which are well respected within the tourism industry, locally and globally, was established in 2013. The Lilizela Tourism Awards celebrates global excellence in tourism, focusing on service excellence, emerging tourism entrepreneurship and sustainable tourism development. Ashia, a conservancy and working farm, was only established 18 months ago and was nominated by the Drakenstein Local Tourism Association (DLTA).

Annelize Stroebel of DLTA, says that Ashia made a huge impact within a short period. “We proudly recommended this establishment for it’s contribution to the growth of the local tourism industry and felt that they ticked all the boxes in this highly competitive category,” says Stroebel.

The joint initiative between South African Tourism and the Tourism Grading Council pays tribute to those who make a remarkable contribution to tourism in South Africa.

Sept 20, 2019

Ivory, ’n vyf jaar oue jagluiperd, is deel van die Ashia Cheetah Conservation- projek…

KYK: Eens mak jagluiperd is nou ‘n ‘wilde kat’

’n Jaar gelede was hy ’n troeteldier, maar deesdae jag hy sy eie kos en kan niemand aan hom raak nie.

Ivory, ’n vyf jaar oue jagluiperd, is deel van die Ashia Cheetah Conservation- projek wat daarop fokus om mak jagluiperds, wat in aanhouding gebore is, weer in reservate vry te laat.

Hy het Donderdag die eerste jagluiperd geword wat as deel van die projek in die Amakhala-wildreservaat in die Oos-Kaap vrygelaat is.

“Dit is alles sodat wilde jagluiperds se kwynende genepoel uitgebrei kan word,” sê Chantal Rischard.

Sy en haar man, Stephan Illenberger, het dié bewaringsprojek in die Paarl gestig. Hulle koop jagluiperds wat in aanhouding gebore is vir tussen R120 000 en R150 000 per jagluiperd by telers.

Hierna word die jagluiperds in Ashia se reservaat fiks gemaak en na die Kuzuko Lodge, ’n private reservaat wat deel is van die groter Addo-bewaringsgebied in die OosKaap, gebring.
Dit is die einste reservaat waar die rondloperleeu Sylvester onder die wakende oog van die reservaatbestuurder, Gerhard de Lange, ’n tuiste gevind het.

De Lange sê die proses om die luiperds weer wild te maak begin in ’n boma wat die jag van diere vir die mak jagluiperds vergemaklik. “Die mannetjie (Ivory) het in Desember by ons aangekom. Ek volg ’n ander benadering as ander mense. Die meeste mense is onder die indruk dat dit ’n tweejaarprogram is, maar my benadering is tot voordeel van die dier, nie mense nie.”
Volgens hom is die geheim dat die jagluiperd nie heeldag deur mense omring moet word nie.
“Ek gaan kyk slegs soggens of die dier vreet. Daar is kos beskikbaar as hy honger is, maar die res van die dag los ek hulle uit. En elke dag raak hulle wilder. Die model werk. ’n Mens moet die dier in die natuur sit en dan doen die natuur sy werk.

“Geen mens kan hulle leer jag of om ’n karkas oop te skeur nie. Hulle het dit in hulle en hul grootste instink is om te oorleef.”
Ivory het binne vier maande nadat hy eens met ’n halsband geloop het ’n wilde jagluiperd geword wat sommer vier springbokke binne vier dae kan plattrek.

De Lange het nog 15 jagluiperds in sy sorg en hoop om hulle binnekort in ander reservate vry te laat.

“Op die oomblik is daar rofweg 58 wildreservate in Suid-Afrika en tussen hulle is daar sowat 380 jagluiperds. Die jagluiperds word rondgeskuif om inteling te voorkom.”

Maar soos sake nou staan, is die jagluiperds so min dat hulle wel iewers met ’n niggie of nefie sal moet paar.

Volgens Rischard is dit juis daarom nodig om ’n nuwe genepoel te skep. “Dit is belangrik om die meta – bevolking te vergroot. Dit kan deur middel van die jagluiperds gedoen word wat in aanhouding gebore is, en dis waar ons inkom. “Ons maak hulle by die Kuzuko Lodge fiks vir vrylating en laat hulle op ander wildreservate vry, met die hulp van die EWT (Trust vir Bedreigde Spesies) wat aandui waar hulle benodig word,” sê Rischard.

Die jagluiperds wat in aanhouding.

gebore is, is volgens hulle die perfekte oplossing om die genepoel vir die spesie te vergroot aangesien die kans klein is dat hulle voorheen met wilde jagluiperds gepaar het.

Mark Palmer, bestuurder van die Amakhala-wildreservaat, sê jagluiperds is wat bewaring betref vir die reservaat ’n voorkeurspesie en hulle is opgewonde om deel van die program te wees.

“Jagluiperds is kwesbaar, hulle (getalle) is aan die afneem en dit is ’n manier om nuwe gene in te bring om die spesie te versterk.” Volgens Palmer is die hoop dat Ivory en die jagluiperdwyfie wat vir hom in die reservaat wag, binnekort sal paar en aanteel. Maar vir die volgende drie weke sal Ivory en sy toekomstige maat mekaar net deur die heining van sy boma kan beloer, terwyl hy by sy nuwe omgewing aanpas voordat hy in die reservaat vrygelaat kan word.

Sept 20, 2019

Ivory, ’n vyf jaar oue jagluiperd, is deel van die Ashia Cheetah Conservation- projek…

KYK: Eens mak jagluiperd is nou ‘n ‘wilde kat’

’n Jaar gelede was hy ’n troeteldier, maar deesdae jag hy sy eie kos en kan niemand aan hom raak nie. 

Ivory, ’n vyf jaar oue jagluiperd, is deel van die Ashia Cheetah Conservation projek wat help om mak luipered wat in aanhouding gebore is weer inreservate vry te laat.

Hy het gister die eerste jagluiperd geword wat as deel van die projek in die Amakhala-wildreservaat in die Oos-Kaap vrygelaat is.

“Dit is alles sodat wilde jagluiperds se kwynende genepoel uitgebrei kan word,” sê Chantal Rischard.

Sy en haar man, Stephan Illenberger, het dié bewaringsprojek in die Paarl gestig. Hulle koop jagluiperds wat in aanhouding gebore is vir tussen R120 000 en
R150 000 per jagluiperd by telers.

Ivory kom van Bloemfontein.

Hierna word die jagluiperds in Ashia se reservaat fiks gemaak en na die Kuzuko Lodge, ’n private reservaat wat deel is van die groter Addo-bewaringsgebied in die OosKaap, gebring.

Hier word hul jaginstink weer aangewakker.

Dit is die einste reservaat waar die rondloperleeu Sylvester onder die wakende oog van die reservaatbestuurder, Gerhard de Lange, ’n tuiste gevind het.

De Lange sê die proses om die luiperds weer wild te maak begin in ’n boma wat die jag van diere vir die mak jagluiperds vergemaklik.

“Ivory het in Desember by ons aangekom. Ek volg ’n ander benadering as ander mense,” sê hy.

Volgens hom is die geheim dat die jagluiperd nie heeldag deur mense omring moet word nie.

“Die model werk. ’n Mens moet die dier in die natuur sit en dan doen die natuur sy werk.“Geen mens kan hulle leer jag of om ’n karkas oop te skeur nie. Hulle het dit in hulle en hul grootste instink is om te oorleef.”

”Ivory het binne vier maande nadat hy eens met ’n halsband geloop het ’n wilde jagluiperd geword wat sommer vier springbokke binne vier dae kan plattrek.

De Lange het nog 15 jagluiperds in sy sorg en hoop om hulle binnekort in ander reservate vry te laat. “Die jagluiperds word rondgeskuif om inteling te voorkom.“

Volgens Rischard is dit nodig om ‘n nuwe genepoel te skep.

Ashia cheetah sanctuary and awareness centre receives esteemed Lilizela I Can Do Tourism Award (MEC Award) at Western Cape provincial ceremony The Western Cape tourism industry

Sept 19, 2019

Ashia cheetah sanctuary and awareness centre receives esteemed Lilizela I Can Do Tourism…

Tourism and jobs – a better future for all in the Western Cape

Ashia cheetah sanctuary and awareness centre receives esteemed Lilizela I Can Do Tourism Award (MEC Award) at Western Cape provincial ceremony The Western Cape tourism industry was celebrated on Friday, 13 September with Provincial Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, congratulating winners and finalists of the Provincial Lilizela Tourism Awards 2019 at a red-carpet affair at the Devonvale Golf and Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.

In addition to announcing the 40 winners across the 25 award categories, Minister Maynier awarded the coveted Lilizela I Can Do Tourism Award (MEC Award) to Ashia, a world-class and Fair Trade accredited cheetah sanctuary outside Paarl in the Western Cape that has demonstrated great impact in growing tourism within their community within a very short time span.  As expressed by Minister Maynier, “The Lilizela Tourism Awards recognises and rewards those in the tourism sector who work passionately and with pride to deliver a world class product or experience for visitors to the Western Cape. The tourism sector remains the backbone of the Western Cape economy, supporting over 300,000 direct and indirect jobs in our province alone thanks to the millions of tourists who flock to the region annually to enjoy some of the most scenic and breath-taking locations that the globe has to offer.”

Chantal Rischard, founder and co-owner of Ashia states, “We are honoured and delighted to have received this very prestigious award such a short time after having opened our doors to visitors early last year. Our primary focus remains cheetah conservation where, through our Breeding, Wilding and Release project, we have successfully started ‘wilding’ captive-born cheetah through an innovative approach, in order to preserve this iconic species. A large part of what we do is educating the public about the plight of the cheetah, and we welcome visitors, both local and international, to experience Ashia first-hand and to fall in love with these remarkable animals like we have”.  The 40 winners of the Western Cape Provincial Lilizela Tourism Awards will now go on to represent the province at the National Lilizela Tourism Awards which will take place on the 9 November 2019 at the Sun Arena in Tshwane, Gauteng.

CONTACTS AT ASHIA  Marna Smit, Sanctuary Manager (t): +27 (0) 72 956 3282 email here-  VOLUNTEERS: email here – GUESTS:

FOR MORE PRESS INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Saskia Brown – Ashia Marketing T:  +27 (0)21 201 4774 E: MARKETING

Ashia and winners and finalists of the Provincial Lilizela Tourism Awards 2019 at a red-carpet affair at the Devonvale Golf and Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.

Sept 16, 2019

Minister Maynier awarded the Lilizela I Can Do Tourism Award (MEC Award) to Ashia, a…

Get involved in our cheetah breeding, wilding and release programme

Sept 2019: Ashia, a world-class and Fair Trade Tourism accredited cheetah sanctuary outside Paarl in South Africa’s Western Cape, is now offering volunteers on their education-based volunteering programme the opportunity to live their conservation dream and get involved in the wilding and release of cheetahs into the protected wild of South African private game reserves.
Ashia’s Breeding, Wilding and Release Project, financed and managed by Ashia and Kuzuko Lodge, went into operation in September 2018 with the release of a captive born female cheetah on Kuzuko, a 15,000ha private game reserve in the Eastern Cape. Since then, more captive-born cats have been translocated to Kuzuko to undergo their wilding and fitness programme in specially designed wilding sections prior to their final release on other reserves. Two litters of cubs have already been born into the protected wild on the reserve from previously hand-raised females. Once grown up, having been raised by their mothers, they will also be released on other reserves.
“Our conservation efforts primarily focus on the wilding and introduction of captive-bred cheetahs into the protected wild. The ultimate purpose is to strengthen the gene pool and to secure a viable cheetah metapopulation in South Africa, in order to prevent the further decline of cheetah numbers in the wild,” states Chantal Rischard, founder and co-owner of Ashia. Several cheetahs are earmarked each year for wilding and release onto private game reserves in South Africa.
Ashia now offers the opportunity to get involved in its cheetah conservation efforts. Volunteers will first work alongside sanctuary staff in Paarl to get the necessary experience and training for their volunteering time in the field of South African game reserves. Depending on the stage of the yearly release efforts, they will either assist in accompanying the cheetahs to the reserve, help with their settling in boma period, or later, monitor and record their movements, behaviour as well as hunting and breeding successes. Additionally, they will support the game reserve’s
predator team with boma, fence and general reserve maintenance or bush clearing. During educational sessions at Paarl and the reserve, volunteers will gain a deeper insight into Cheetah Conservation and other wildlife.
Interested volunteers should be available for a minimum 3 to 4-week period, which will include at least a week in a game reserve. As such volunteering could require a lot of driving; interested parties should therefore ideally hold an international driver’s license.
For those with less time available, Ashia offers additional flexible volunteering programmes at the sanctuary in Paarl (near Cape Town), ranging in time from 2 weeks to several months. Furthermore, opportunities for internships are also available. Ashia’s luxurious Volunteer House can accommodate up to 12 volunteers and offers sweeping views over the cheetah camps, orchards and the dramatic Drakenstein mountains.
Two spacious, modern cottages next to the Volunteer House offer more privacy for those wishing to spend a Working Holiday at the sanctuary. This allows the flexibility to choose if, and when, guests want to participate in the usual daily volunteer duties and social activities.
A favourite quote for the Volunteer team is a Chinese proverb that states: “Tell me and I’ll forget; Show me and I may remember; Involve me and I’ll understand”, forming the foundation of the volunteering programme and the legacy they hope to leave for future generations.
2019 Prices start at ZAR 19 250 for the 3 week release programme and includes accommodation, 2 meals daily, all training material, Wifi, laundry services and 2 Ashia t-shirts.
Please contact email here for detailed information.

Ashia now offers the opportunity to get involved in its cheetah conservation efforts.

Sept 01, 2019

Ashia now offers the opportunity to get involved in its cheetah conservation efforts…

Get involved in our cheetah breeding, wilding and release programme

Sept 2019: Ashia, a world-class and Fair Trade Tourism accredited cheetah sanctuary outside Paarl in South Africa’s Western Cape, is now offering volunteers on their education-based volunteering programme the opportunity to live their conservation dream and get involved in the wilding and release of cheetahs into the protected wild of South African private game reserves.
Ashia’s Breeding, Wilding and Release Project, financed and managed by Ashia and Kuzuko Lodge, went into operation in September 2018 with the release of a captive born female cheetah on Kuzuko, a 15,000ha private game reserve in the Eastern Cape. Since then, more captive-born cats have been translocated to Kuzuko to undergo their wilding and fitness programme in specially designed wilding sections prior to their final release on other reserves. Two litters of cubs have already been born into the protected wild on the reserve from previously hand-raised females. Once grown up, having been raised by their mothers, they will also be released on other reserves.
“Our conservation efforts primarily focus on the wilding and introduction of captive-bred cheetahs into the protected wild. The ultimate purpose is to strengthen the gene pool and to secure a viable cheetah metapopulation in South Africa, in order to prevent the further decline of cheetah numbers in the wild,” states Chantal Rischard, founder and co-owner of Ashia. Several cheetahs are earmarked each year for wilding and release onto private game reserves in South Africa.
Ashia now offers the opportunity to get involved in its cheetah conservation efforts. Volunteers will first work alongside sanctuary staff in Paarl to get the necessary experience and training for their volunteering time in the field of South African game reserves. Depending on the stage of the yearly release efforts, they will either assist in accompanying the cheetahs to the reserve, help with their settling in boma period, or later, monitor and record their movements, behaviour as well as hunting and breeding successes. Additionally, they will support the game reserve’s
predator team with boma, fence and general reserve maintenance or bush clearing. During educational sessions at Paarl and the reserve, volunteers will gain a deeper insight into Cheetah Conservation and other wildlife.
Interested volunteers should be available for a minimum 3 to 4-week period, which will include at least a week in a game reserve. As such volunteering could require a lot of driving; interested parties should therefore ideally hold an international driver’s license.
For those with less time available, Ashia offers additional flexible volunteering programmes at the sanctuary in Paarl (near Cape Town), ranging in time from 2 weeks to several months. Furthermore, opportunities for internships are also available. Ashia’s luxurious Volunteer House can accommodate up to 12 volunteers and offers sweeping views over the cheetah camps, orchards and the dramatic Drakenstein mountains.
Two spacious, modern cottages next to the Volunteer House offer more privacy for those wishing to spend a Working Holiday at the sanctuary. This allows the flexibility to choose if, and when, guests want to participate in the usual daily volunteer duties and social activities.
A favourite quote for the Volunteer team is a Chinese proverb that states: “Tell me and I’ll forget; Show me and I may remember; Involve me and I’ll understand”, forming the foundation of the volunteering programme and the legacy they hope to leave for future generations.
2019 Prices start at ZAR 19 250 for the 3 week release programme and includes accommodation, 2 meals daily, all training material, Wifi, laundry services and 2 Ashia t-shirts.
Please contact email here for detailed information.

Ashia’s Cheetah Breeding, Wilding and Release Project, financed and managed by Ashia and Kuzuko Lodge, went into operation in September 201

June 24, 2019

Ashia, a world-class and Fair Trade Tourism accredited cheetah sanctuary outside Paarl…

Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary and Awareness Centre offers the opportunity to participate in a ground-breaking conservation programme.

June 2019: Ashia, a world-class and Fair Trade Tourism accredited cheetah sanctuary outside Paarl in South Africa’s Western Cape, is now offering volunteers on their education-based volunteering programme the opportunity to live their conservation dream and get involved in the wilding and release of cheetahs into the protected wild of South African private game reserves.

Ashia’s Breeding, Wilding and Release Project, financed and managed by Ashia and Kuzuko Lodge, went into operation in September 2018 with the release of a captive born female cheetah on Kuzuko, a 15,000ha private game reserve in the Eastern Cape. Since then, more captive-born cats have been translocated to Kuzuko to undergo their wilding and fitness programme in specially designed wilding sections prior to their final release on other reserves. Two litters of cubs have already been born into the protected wild on the reserve from previously hand-raised females. Once grown up, having been raised by their mothers, they will also be released on other reserves.

“Our conservation efforts primarily focus on the wilding and introduction of captive-bred cheetahs into the protected wild. The ultimate purpose is to strengthen the gene pool and to secure a viable cheetah metapopulation in South Africa, in order to prevent the further decline of cheetah numbers in the wild,” states Chantal Rischard, founder and co-owner of Ashia. Several cheetahs are earmarked each year for wilding and release onto private game reserves in South Africa.

Ashia now offers the opportunity to get involved in its cheetah conservation efforts. Volunteers will first work alongside sanctuary staff in Paarl to get the necessary experience and training for their volunteering time in the field of South African game reserves. Depending on the stage of the yearly release efforts, they will either assist in accompanying the cheetahs to the reserve, help with their settling in boma period, or later, monitor and record their movements, behaviour as well as hunting and breeding successes. Additionally, they will support the game reserve’s predator team with boma, fence and general reserve maintenance or bush clearing. During educational sessions at Paarl and the reserve, volunteers will gain a deeper insight into Cheetah Conservation and other wildlife.

Interested volunteers should be available for a minimum 3 to 4-week period, which will include at least a week in a game reserve. As such volunteering could require a lot of driving; interested parties should therefore ideally hold an international driver’s license.

For those with less time available, Ashia offers additional flexible volunteering programmes at the sanctuary in Paarl (near Cape Town), ranging in time from 2 weeks to several months. Furthermore, opportunities for internships are also available. Ashia’s luxurious Volunteer House can accommodate up to 12 volunteers and offers sweeping views over the cheetah camps, orchards and the dramatic Drakenstein mountains. Two spacious, modern cottages next to the Volunteer House offer more privacy for those wishing to spend a Working Holiday at the sanctuary. This allows the flexibility to choose if, and when, guests want to participate in the usual daily volunteer duties and social activities.

A favourite quote for the Volunteer team is a Chinese proverb that states: “Tell me and I’ll forget; Show me and I may remember; Involve me and I’ll understand”, forming the foundation of the volunteering programme and the legacy they hope to leave for future generations.

2019 Prices start at ZAR 19 250 for the 3 week release programme and includes accommodation, 2 meals daily, all training material, Wifi, laundry services and 2 Ashia t-shirts.

Please contact volunteers@ashia.co.za for detailed information.

protective cheetah mother with her newborn cubs

June 24, 2019

The four cubs were birthed by another captive-born female cheetah who forms…

Cheetah cubs born at Kuzuko Lodge

The second litter of cheetah cubs has successfully been born into the protected wild of Kuzuko Lodge as part of the joint “Breeding, Wilding and Release Project”, set up by Ashia Cheetah Conservation and Kuzuko Lodge, part of the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group, in 2018.

The four cubs were birthed by another captive-born female cheetah who forms part of this ground-breaking conservation programme, having arrived at Kuzuko Lodge earlier this year already pregnant.

The first-time feline mom delivered all four cubs successfully, however after a short while the project team, who had been keeping an eye on her from a distance, noticed that the cubs were not feeding.

 

Not wanting to interfere too quickly, the team decided to give them a couple of hours to see whether some privacy would assist with their bonding.

When the team returned and the cubs were still bundled together, it was time to intervene. It was discovered that the umbilical cord had intertwined the cubs together, not allowing them the freedom to feed.

The very protective mother was lured away with food and the cubs quickly released from the cord.

 

Despite being a first-time mom the female immediately took the cubs back and within no time they started suckling successfully. According to the team at Kuzuko, the are doing very well and have already tripled in size.

“These four cubs are extremely important to us as they represent 1.2% of the current cheetah metapopulation management programme. It was an exceptionally tough decision but in the end we are glad that we intervened when we saw the problem with the umbilical cord, and even more so that we placed them back with their mother. We are proud of the fact that the cheetah cubs born on Kuzuko will be raised by their mothers and not by the human hand,” says Gerhard de Lange, reserve general manager at Kuzuko Lodge.

The “Breeding, Wilding and Release Project” conservation programme primarily focuses on the wilding and introduction of captive-bred cheetahs and their offspring into the protected wild.

 

The ultimate purpose is to strengthen the gene pool and to secure a viable cheetah metapopulation in South Africa, in order to prevent the further decline of cheetah numbers in the wild.

“Usually, cub mortality in the wild is extremely high and our first-time mom would be lucky to raise one of her four cubs to adulthood. At Kuzuko, where we established a secure but natural breeding and wilding area, we are trying a new way to enhance the chances for all cubs to reach an age where they can better fend for themselves and are strong and fast enough to escape other predators,” says Chantal Rischard, founder of Ashia.

Once old enough to fend for themselves, these cubs will enter the Cheetah Metapopulation Project, which in turn will identify suitable game reserves to move them to, in order to ensure viable genetic diversity of the species.

Captive-born female cheetah, resting with her newborn cheetah cubs, now part of Breeding, Wilding and Release Program

June 20, 2019

The second litter of cubs has successfully been born at Kuzuko Lodge as part of the joint…

Following the milestone birth of the first litter of Cheetah cubs in the wild from a captive-bred female, the second litter of cubs has successfully been born at Kuzuko Lodge as part of the joint ‘Breeding, Wilding and Release Project’, set up by Ashia Cheetah Conservation and Kuzuko Lodge, part of the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group, in 2018.

The four cubs were birthed by another captive-born female cheetah who forms part of this ground-breaking conservation programme, having arrived at Kuzuko Lodge earlier this year already pregnant. The first-time feline mom delivered all four cubs successfully, however after a short while the project team, who had been keeping an eye on her from a distance, noticed that the cubs were not feeding.

Not wanting to interfere too quickly, the team decided to give them a couple of hours to see whether some privacy would assist with their bonding. When the team returned and the cubs were still bundled together, it was time to intervene. It was discovered that the umbilical cord had intertwined the cubs together, not allowing them the freedom to feed.

The very protective mother was lured away with food and the cubs quickly released from the cord. Despite being a first-time mom the female immediately took the cubs back and within no time they started suckling successfully. According to the team at Kuzuko, they are doing very well and have already tripled in size.

“These four cubs are extremely important to us as they represent 1.2% of the current cheetah metapopulation management programme. It was an exceptionally tough decision but in the end, we are glad that we intervened when we saw the problem with the umbilical cord, and even more so that we placed them back with their mother. We are proud of the fact that the cheetah cubs born on Kuzuko will be raised by their mothers and not by the human hand,” says Gerhard de Lange, reserve general manager at Kuzuko Lodge.

The ‘Breeding, Wilding and Release Project’ conservation programme primarily focuses on the wilding and introduction of captive-bred cheetahs and their offspring into the protected wild. The ultimate purpose is to strengthen the gene pool and to secure a viable cheetah metapopulation in South Africa, in order to prevent the further decline of cheetah numbers in the wild.

“Usually, cub mortality in the wild is extremely high and our first-time mom would be lucky to raise one of her four cubs to adulthood. At Kuzuko, where we established a secure but natural breeding and wilding area, we are trying a new way to enhance the chances for all cubs to reach an age where they can better fend for themselves and are strong and fast enough to escape other predators,” says Chantal Rischard, founder of Ashia.

Once old enough to fend for themselves, these cubs will enter the Cheetah Metapopulation Project, which in turn will identify suitable game reserves to move them to, in order to ensure the viable genetic diversity of the species.

Volunteers at Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary

June 20, 2019

Depending on the stage of the yearly release efforts, volunteers will either assist in…

Voluntourism At Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary

Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary and Awareness Centre offers opportunities to participate in ground-breaking conservation programme

CAPE TOWN, 20 June 2019 – Ashia, a world-class and Fair Trade Tourism accredited cheetah sanctuary outside Paarl in South Africa’s Western Cape, is now offering volunteers on their education-based volunteering programme the opportunity to live their conservation dream and get involved in the wilding and release of cheetahs into the protected wild of South African private game reserves.

Ashia’s ‘Breeding, Wilding and Release Project’, financed and managed by Ashia and Kuzuko Lodge went into operation in September 2018 with the release of a captive born female cheetah on Kuzuko, a 15,000ha private game reserve in the Eastern Cape.

Since then, more captive-born cats have been translocated to Kuzuko to undergo their wilding and fitness programme in specially designed wilding sections prior to their final release on other reserves. Two litters of cubs have already been born into the protected wild on the reserve from previously hand-raised females. Once grown up, having been raised by their mothers, they will also be released on other reserves.

“Our conservation efforts primarily focus on the wilding and introduction of captive-bred cheetahs into the protected wild. The ultimate purpose is to strengthen the gene pool and to secure a viable cheetah metapopulation in South Africa, in order to prevent the further decline of cheetah numbers in the wild,” states Chantal Rischard, founder and co-owner of Ashia. Several cheetahs are earmarked each year for wilding and release onto private game reserves in South Africa.

Cheetah Voluntourism
Voluntourism, or volunteer tourism, is when international volunteers contribute their time to work for organisations or causes outside their respective home countries.

A volunteer cleaning a cheetah enclosure at Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary
Ashia now offers the opportunity to get involved in its cheetah conservation efforts. Volunteers will first work alongside sanctuary staff in Paarl to get the necessary experience and training for their volunteering time in the field of South African game reserves.

Depending on the stage of the yearly release efforts, they will either assist in accompanying the cheetahs to the reserve, help with their settling in boma period, or later, monitor and record their movements, behaviour as well as hunting and breeding successes. Additionally, they will support the game reserve’s predator team with boma, fence and general reserve maintenance or bush clearing. During educational sessions at Paarl and the reserve, volunteers will gain a deeper insight into Cheetah Conservation and other wildlife.

Interested volunteers should be available for a minimum 3 to 4-week period, which will include at least a week in a game reserve. As such volunteering could require a lot of driving; interested parties should therefore ideally hold an international driver’s license.

For those with less time available, Ashia offers additional flexible volunteering programmes at the sanctuary in Paarl (near Cape Town), ranging in time from 2 weeks to several months. Furthermore, opportunities for internships are also available.

Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary Volunteer Housing Quarters
Ashia’s luxurious Volunteer House can accommodate up to 12 volunteers and offers sweeping views over the cheetah camps, orchards and the dramatic Drakenstein mountains. Two spacious, modern cottages next to the Volunteer House offer more privacy for those wishing to spend a Working Holiday at the sanctuary. This allows the flexibility to choose if, and when, guests want to participate in the usual daily volunteer duties and social activities.

A favourite quote for the Volunteer team is a Chinese proverb that states: “Tell me and I’ll forget; Show me and I may remember; Involve me and I’ll understand”, forming the foundation of the volunteering programme and the legacy they hope to leave for future generations.

Die jagluiperd is mees bedreigde katspesie in Afrika

June 20, 2019

Toe die span later weer ondersoek ingestel, het die welpies ingeryg by hul ma gelê en gedrink…

4 Jagluiperdwelpies gered

Die span van Kuzuko Lodge, wat die leeu Sylvester suksesvol hervestig het sodat hy nou leier is van ‘n trop van 8 leeus, het onlangs ook vier jagluiperdwelpies van ‘n gewisse dood gered.

Gerhard de Lange van Kuzuko Lodge, het vir Amore Bekker op Tjailatyd vertel hoe dit gebeur het. Hier is die hooftrekke:

Die jagluiperdwyfie en haar vier welpies wat gered is.

Die span by Kuzuko, by die Addo Nasionale Park, was baie opgewonde toe die derde jagluiperdwyfie wat by Kuzuko in die natuur hervestig is, op 25 Mei geboorte skenk aan 4 klein welpies. Dit was die tweede groep welpies wat by Kuzuko in die natuur gebore is van ‘n jagluiperdwyfie wat in die natuur hervestig is.

Die wyfie, wat in aanhouding gebore is, is in Februarie vanjaar hervestig as deel van die Cheetah Breeding, Wilding & Release Project, wat gestig is deur Kuzuko Lodge en die Ashia Cheetah Conservation NPO. Sy het binne dae nadat sy uit ‘n boma in die natuur vrygelaat is, begin jag.

Maar die aanvanklike vreugde oor die geboorte van die vier welpies het algaande plek gemaak vir kommer toe De Lange en sy span sien dat die welpies nie aan haar drink nie. Hulle het besluit om in te gryp, en het die wyfie weggelok, en ondersoek ingestel na die welpies. Hulle het gesien die welpies is baie uitgeteer en kan nie aan haar drink nie, want hulle sit aanmekaar vas omdat hul ma nie hul plasentas alles afgelek kon kry nie.

Breeding, Wilding and Release Program set up by Ashia Cheetah Conservation and Kuzuko Lodge in 2018. Ashia Cheetah Conservation is a Non-profit organisation

April 12, 2019

One of the objectives of the metapopulation program, said Van der Merwe, was to destroy…

Cubs put cheetahs on the fast track to a wilder future

It’s not their cuteness or even the fact that they increase SA’s wild cheetah population by 1% that makes these newborn cubs important. It’s their genes.
“Around 90% of all wild cheetahs in SA are descended from only three females,” said Vincent van der Merwe, head of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s project to bolster the species’ presence in SA.
The arrival four weeks ago of three cubs – two females and a male – at Kuzuko reserve in the Eastern Cape was a small but significant step towards expanding the Acinonyx jubatus gene pool.
“At the moment, I can’t move a cheetah onto a reserve without relatedness issues,” said Van der Merwe. “They are nearly always cousins or half-cousins of the cheetah already there.
“We were faced with the really horrible situation of having to introduce captive genes into the wild population.”
This is why the new arrivals at Kuzuko – the first cubs to emerge from the reserve’s new cheetah breeding programme – are so important.
Once they are around 18 months old, and have become “lion savvy” while roaming the reserve’s 15,000ha, Van der Merwe will take them – and their vital genes – to other reserves, where they will roam wild and hopefully breed.
First they’ll have to avoid the predators – lions, leopards and hyenas – that leave Van der Merwe admitting “we’re expecting a lot of mortality”.
But he has high hopes for the Kuzuko cubs. “The Karoo generally produces quite a tough animal,” he said.
The three cubs have been named Storm, Summer and Rain, in honour of their arrival in the early hours of March 15 during a late-summer downpour.
Their mother is a captive-born cat which is part of the first phase of a cheetah breeding, wilding and release project initiated between the five-star Kuzuko Lodge at the heart of the reserve and a non-profit organisation, Ashia Cheetah Conservation.
The cubs were born in Kuzuko’s 600ha breeding section, which is free of predators and allows reserve manager Gerhard de Lange to monitor pregnant females and offspring.
The mother was already pregnant when she arrived at Kuzuko from Ashia’s cheetah sanctuary in the Western Cape town of Paarl and was released into a holding boma then into the breeding section, where she was soon successfully hunting.
Chantal Rischard from Ashia said the first litter of cubs to be born in the breeding section was a major milestone.
“The eventual introduction of these cubs, once they reach maturity, into the cheetah metapopulation project will complete the cycle that we originally intended – for captive-bred cheetahs and their offspring to make a significant contribution to the conservation plight of this endangered species,” she said.
De Lange said the mother and cubs were doing phenomenally well. “It has been an amazing experience to witness how remarkably well these cats are adjusting to their new home in the wild.”
One of the objectives of the metapopulation project, said Van der Merwe, was to destroy the captive breeding industry and build up the gene pool of the wild population in SA’s 56 cheetah reserves.
This population has sunk to only about 380 animals, far short of the 1,000 needed to sustain a healthy gene pool.
“At the moment we have only 30 to 40 females breeding and only a very small population that are genetically compatible,” he said. “And only the fittest of the fit really contribute.”
That was why the Karoo-raised cubs were particularly important. The sparse vegetation, poor hunting, large distances and rocky landscape all contributed to the animals’ hardiness.
For the 18-month start in life at Kuzuko, the cubs will be closely monitored.
“Then we’ll throw them into the deep end on other metapopulation reserves with high densities of lion, leopard and hyena,” said Van der Merwe.
The survivors will not only be key to repopulating SA with the fastest land animal.
Reserves in Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo are in the queue for cheetahs that emerge from Van der Merwe’s project.

Captive-born mother Cheetah is part of the first phase of a cheetah breeding, wilding and release project. She was released into a holding boma then into the breeding section, where she was soon successfully hunting.

April 12, 2019

It’s not their cuteness or even the fact that they increase SA’s wild cheetah population by…

Cubs put cheetahs on the fast track to a wilder future

It’s not their cuteness or even the fact that they increase SA’s wild cheetah population by 1% that makes these newborn cubs important. It’s their genes.

“Around 90% of all wild cheetahs in SA are descended from only three females,” said Vincent van der Merwe, head of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s project to bolster the species’ presence in SA.

The arrival four weeks ago of three cubs – two females and a male – at Kuzuko reserve in the Eastern Cape was a small but significant step towards expanding the Acinonyx jubatus gene pool.

“At the moment, I can’t move a cheetah onto a reserve without relatedness issues,” said Van der Merwe. “They are nearly always cousins or half-cousins of the cheetah already there.

“We were faced with the really horrible situation of having to introduce captive genes into the wild population.”
This is why the new arrivals at Kuzuko – the first cubs to emerge from the reserve’s new cheetah breeding programme – are so important.

Once they are around 18 months old, and have become “lion savvy” while roaming the reserve’s 15,000ha, Van der Merwe will take them – and their vital genes – to other reserves, where they will roam wild and hopefully breed.
First they’ll have to avoid the predators – lions, leopards and hyenas – that leave Van der Merwe admitting “we’re expecting a lot of mortality”.
But he has high hopes for the Kuzuko cubs. “The Karoo generally produces quite a tough animal,” he said.

The three cubs have been named Storm, Summer and Rain, in honour of their arrival in the early hours of March 15 during a late-summer downpour.
Their mother is a captive-born cat which is part of the first phase of a cheetah breeding, wilding and release project initiated between the five-star Kuzuko Lodge at the heart of the reserve and a non-profit organisation, Ashia Cheetah Conservation.

The cubs were born in Kuzuko’s 600ha breeding section, which is free of predators and allows reserve manager Gerhard de Lange to monitor pregnant females and offspring.
The mother was already pregnant when she arrived at Kuzuko from Ashia’s cheetah sanctuary in the Western Cape town of Paarl and was released into a holding boma then into the breeding section, where she was soon successfully hunting.

Chantal Rischard from Ashia said the first litter of cubs to be born in the breeding section was a major milestone.
“The eventual introduction of these cubs, once they reach maturity, into the cheetah metapopulation project will complete the cycle that we originally intended – for captive-bred cheetahs and their offspring to make a significant contribution to the conservation plight of this endangered species,” she said.
De Lange said the mother and cubs were doing phenomenally well. “It has been an amazing experience to witness how remarkably well these cats are adjusting to their new home in the wild.”

The main objective of the metapopulation project, said Van der Merwe, was to build up the gene pool of the wild population in SA’s 56 cheetah reserves.
This population has sunk to only about 380 animals, far short of the 1,000 needed to sustain a healthy gene pool. “At the moment we have only 30 to 40 females breeding and only a very small population that are genetically compatible,” he said. “And only the fittest of the fit really contribute.”
That was why the Karoo-raised cubs were particularly important. The sparse vegetation, poor hunting, large distances and rocky landscape all contributed to the animals’ hardiness.

For the 18-month start in life at Kuzuko, the cubs will be closely monitored. “Then we’ll throw them into the deep end on other metapopulation reserves with high densities of lion, leopard and hyena,” said Van der Merwe.
The survivors will not only be key to repopulating SA with the fastest land animal. Reserves in Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo are in the queue for cheetahs that emerge from Van der Merwe’s project.

During the early hours of a stormy late-summer morning, the first three cubs of a pioneering cheetah conservation project

April 11, 2019

We are delighted to have reached this major milestone, in that the first litter of cubs have…

Birth Of Cheetah Cubs A Milestone Event For Breeding Project

Kuzuko Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, 11 April 2019 – During the early hours of a stormy late-summer morning, the first three cubs of a pioneering cheetah conservation project were born at Kuzuko Lodge, part of the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group.

The birth of these cubs is particularly significant as they are the first cheetah cubs to be born on Kuzuko Game Reserve from a captive-born female cheetah, who is part of the first wave of cats to be introduced for the Cheetah Breeding, Wilding & Release Project, initiated between Kuzuko Lodge and Ashia Cheetah Conservation NPO.

The primary goal of the project comprises the Cheetah Breeding Project, in a secure but natural environment provided on Kuzuko’s game reserve. The Breeding Section is made up of an area of close to 600ha where captive-born cats are able to hunt, mate and give birth in the wild. The predator-free area allows close monitoring of adult animals and pregnant females as well as their future offspring.

The proud mother who was already pregnant when she arrived was the second female to make her way to Kuzuko, at the beginning of 2019, one of three adult females to kick off the Cheetah Breeding Project. Originally a captive-born cheetah, her introduction on the reserve started in a holding boma, after which she was released onto the Breeding Section where she was soon successfully hunting.

During a warm summer rainstorm on 15 March 2019, she gave birth to one male and two female cubs, aptly named Storm, Summer and Rain by the Kuzuko and Ashia teams, in commemoration of the tumultuous weather conditions on the day of their birth. As nature intended the three cubs will remain with their mother to grow up in the protected wild and learn to hunt on their own. Once mature enough to fend for themselves, they will enter the Cheetah Metapopulation Project who will identify suitable game reserves for the offspring born at Kuzuko.
“We are delighted to have reached this major milestone, in that the first litter of cubs have successfully been born into the project. The eventual introduction of these cubs, once they reach maturity, into the Cheetah Metapopulation Project will complete the cycle that we originally intended – for captive-bred cheetahs and their offspring to make a significant contribution to the conservation plight of this endangered species,” states Chantal Rischard from Ashia.

Gerhard de Lange from Kuzuko adds: “The female and her cubs are doing phenomenally well; the cubs are growing daily under their mom’s attentive care. It has been an amazing experience to witness how remarkably well these cats are adjusting to their new home in the wild.”

ABOUT KUZUKO:
Kuzuko Lodge is built high up on a hill in a 15 000ha private game reserve situated in the Malaria free greater Addo area which is situated in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. This reserve is perfectly situated to start or complete a trip along the Garden Route with. Guests are housed in 24 chalets of which three are wheelchair accessible. Kuzuko is part of the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group and is a member of the Inqo Investments Social Impact Investment Group, which combines job creation, conservation and social transformation. For more information visit www.kuzuko.com or www.kuzukolodge.co.za or phone +27 42 203 1700.

ABOUT ASHIA CHEETAH CONSERVATION:
A registered non-profit company, Ashia Cheetah Conservation was set up by Ashia to manage and finance the Cheetah Release Program. Ashia’s goal is to help prevent the further decline of cheetah populations and increase the genetic gene pool through captive breeding programs. Captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild of selected Private Game Reserves in South Africa. The relatedness of the reserve populations has become an issue and preventing inbreeding without supplementation from outside populations will be practically impossible. Given the limited numbers in the wild, the release of captive-born cheetahs from scientific breeding programs with strict DNA testing and accurate (Studbook) records on origin and parentage is a promising way to respond to the urgent need of reintroducing new genes to strengthen the wild populations.

ABOUT ASHIA:
A world-class cheetah sanctuary outside Paarl in South Africa’s Western Cape, Ashia is a mere 45-minute drive from Cape Town. An African name meaning ‘life and hope’, Ashia lies nestled at the foot of the dramatic Drakenstein mountains, providing the perfect setting for its resident cheetahs and the sanctuary’s education, research, fundraising and visitor activities. Ashia was founded in October 2016 with the purchase of a 35ha working farm in Paarl cultivating grapes, olives and guavas. Over a period of 18 months, 10ha have been transformed into the present sanctuary. A visit at Ashia offers in-depth educational experiences about small and big cats in human care and cheetah conservation in action. Ashia it is a not-for-profit undertaking as none of the surpluses leaves the project but for funding Ashia Cheetah Conservation NPC which is financing the Cheetah Wilding and Release Program and linking Wildlife Conservation and Human Welfare. Ashia does not support any cheetah trade. All releases take place at own costs.

Two captive-born Cheetahs prepare for their release into the protected wild, gaining fitness and hunting skills for their future life in the wild

March 24, 2019

“We partnered with Kuzuko as the game reserve offers the most dedicated wildlife…

Kuzuko, Eastern Cape – March 15, 2019: The release of a captive-born female cheetah named Jasmin onto Kuzuko Lodge, part of the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group, at the end of August 2018, has given birth to a pioneering conservation initiative and has marked the start of a promising partnership formed between Kuzuko Lodge and Ashia Cheetah Conservation NPO.

After initially spending some time in a boma, Jasmin was released onto a 300ha Wilding Section. This turned out to be the most perfect set-up for her fitness and hunting training as Jasmin’s instincts kicked in almost immediately. In the space of days she made her first kill and has been successfully hunting ever since. Monitoring Jasmin’s first amazing months of wilding and successful hunting, lead to the creation of the “Cheetah Breeding, Wilding & Release Project” which is based on two main objectives.

The primary goal of the project comprises the Cheetah Breeding Project in a secure but natural environment provided on Kuzuko’s game reserve. Financed by both parties, Kuzuko started with the fencing and internal set-up of the Breeding Section in 2018. This is an area of close to 600ha where several captive-born cats are now able to hunt, mate and give birth in the wild. The predator-free area (with no lions and leopards) allows close monitoring of adult animals and pregnant females as well as their future offspring.

According to both parties involved, the innovative set-up is designed to lower the major threats cheetah cubs face in the wild, and considerably increase their survival rate, all the while being raised and “educated” by their mother. The protective instinct of the mothers should also kick in leading the cubs away from lions patrolling the fence, thus sensitising the cubs to bigger predators.

“We partnered with Kuzuko as the game reserve offers the most dedicated wildlife management under Gerhard de Lange, and a perfect set-up for captive-born and captive-raised cats to gain the necessary fitness and hunting skills for their future life in the wild. Extending the initial wilding and release concept with the breeding venture opens the door to a whole new level of conservation,” states Chantal Rischard from Ashia.

The already existing 300ha Wilding Section where Jasmin started her walk into the wild, will furthermore be used to prepare captive-born adult or adolescent cats for their release into the protected wild of other game reserves in South Africa. Jasmin and any subsequent cat roaming this section are in good company as De Lange and his team first used it to rehabilitate Sylvester the famous run-away lion from the Karoo, who has been in residence at Kuzuko since May 2016.

Secondly, it also was the initial home for Nika and Angel, two orphan lioness cubs who were raised to be wild from a mere five months old. Both were successfully released into the reserve where they now hunt and thrive, forming a pride with Sylvester and his male counterpart Fielies (another lion on the reserve who had an uncertain future).  Recently the lionesses both had cubs, sparking the conservation success story that inspired De Lange to do the same with captive-born cheetah. He used a completely hands-off approach with these lionesses, meaning he is unable to walk with them, touch them or call them, the same approach that will be used with the cheetah who are part of the new initiative.

At this stage, the 300ha Wilding Section is home to a 5-year old male cheetah who is undergoing the wilding and fitness phase and is already hunting regularly. He is earmarked for release on a game reserve in the Eastern Cape by the middle of 2019. Kuzuko and Ashia both closely work with the management of South Africa’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project of the EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust). The team at EWT  assists by identifying suitable game reserves for wilded cheetah and provides invaluable advice where needed.

Kuzuko’s Breeding and Wilding Sections are at the moment home to six cheetah, consisting of three adult females, one adult male and two adolescent siblings.

“All adult cats made their first kill a mere 6-10 days after being released onto the Wilding and Breeding Section. They are doing exceptionally well, and their personality, behaviour and physical condition changed surprisingly fast. We are in uncharted waters and may experience set-backs but we are convinced it is a very promising way to go forward in cheetah conservation,” states Gerhard de Lange from Kuzuko.

Cheetah mother with her three cubs new born

March 24, 2019

The mother gave birth to one male and two female cubs, aptly named Storm, Summer and Rain by…

3 Cubs born in pioneering cheetah conservation project.

During the early hours of a stormy late-summer’s morning on 15 March 2019, the first three cubs of a pioneering cheetah-conservation project were born at Kuzuko Lodge.

The birth of these cubs is particularly significant as they are the first cubs to be born on the reserve from a captive-born female cheetah, part of the first wave of cats to be part of the ‘Cheetah Breeding, Wilding & Release Project’, an initiative of Kuzuko Lodge and Ashia Cheetah Conservation NPO.

The breeding area within Kuzuko’s reserve is a 600ha space where captive-born cats are able to hunt, mate and give birth in the wild. The predator-free section allows close monitoring of adult animals and pregnant females as well as their future offspring.

The mother who was already pregnant when she arrived was the second female to make her way to Kuzuko, at the beginning of 2019, one of three adult females to kick off the Cheetah Breeding Project. Originally a captive-born cheetah, her introduction to the reserve began in a holding boma, after which she was released into the breeding area where she was soon successfully hunting.

The mother gave birth to one male and two female cubs, aptly named Storm, Summer and Rain by the Kuzuko and Ashia teams. The three cubs will remain with their mother to mature in the protected wild area and learn to hunt on their own. Once old enough to fend for themselves, they will enter the Cheetah Metapopulation Project that will identify suitable game reserves for the offspring born at Kuzuko.

‘We are delighted to have reached this major milestone, in that the first litter of cubs have successfully been born into the project. The eventual introduction of these cubs, once they reach maturity, into the Cheetah Metapopulation Project will complete the cycle that we originally intended – for captive-bred cheetahs and their offspring to make a significant contribution to the conservation plight of this endangered species,’ states Chantal Rischard from Ashia.

Gerhard de Lange from Kuzuko adds: ‘The female and her cubs are doing phenomenally well; the cubs are growing daily under their mom’s attentive care. It has been an amazing experience to witness how remarkably well these cats are adjusting to their new home in the wild.’

Six cheetahs roaming a remote game reserve in the Karoo could hold the key to the future of the species in the wild.

March 15, 2019

“We need new genetics, and the time has come for the captive cheetah community to play…

A wild target won’t stop them turning six cheetahs into hundreds.

SA’s wild cheetah population is 350, but at least 1,000 are needed for a genetically viable wild population.

Six cheetahs roaming a remote game reserve in the Karoo could hold the key to the future of the species in the wild.
The 15,000-hectare Kuzuko reserve, with a five-star lodge at its heart, has unveiled an ambitious project to breed, wild and release cheetahs so the SA wild population of just 350 animals can grow.
It is working with the cheetah metapopulation project at the Endangered Wildlife Trust and cheetah conservation charity Ashia to breed animals that can be sold for nominal amounts to other reserves.
Kuzuko manager Gerhard Lange said a “rewilded” captive-bred cheetah, a five-year-old male that was making regular kills in the reserve’s 300ha fenced wilding section, was due to be released at another Eastern Cape reserve in the middle of the year.
Lange has rewilded two orphaned lioness cubs at Kuzuko, near Somerset East, and they are now raising cubs. But with cheetahs, he said he was attempting something that had not been tried before.
The adult male, three adult females and two adolescent siblings are roaming the wilding section and a 600ha area set aside for breeding.
“All adult cats made their first kill a mere six to 10 days after being released on to the wilding and breeding sections,” said Lange.
“They are doing exceptionally well, and their personality, behaviour and physical condition changed surprisingly fast. We are in uncharted waters and may experience setbacks, but we are convinced it is a very promising way to go forward in cheetah conservation.”
The breeding and wilding project was sparked by early success with Jasmin, a female born in captivity at Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein and released into Kuzuko’s wilding section in August 2018.
When she arrived, Jasmin behaved more like a house cat than a wild animal, purring as she pressed her body against Lange’s legs, and expecting to be fed by hand.
“In the space of days she made her first kill and has been successfully hunting ever since,” said Lange, pointing out that while the cheetah was still calm around humans, she no longer sought physical contact.
A statement from Kuzuko said Lange was using a similar “completely hands-off approach” with the cheetahs he adopted with the orphan lionesses. “He is unable to walk with the [lionesses], touch them or call them. The same approach will be used with the cheetah who are part of the new initiative,” it said.
In May 2016, Kuzuko’s wilding section was the temporary home for Sylvester, the runaway Karoo National Park lion that has now settled at the reserve. It then became home for the orphan lionesses, which have formed a pride and bred with Sylvester and his male counterpart, Fielies.
The reserve’s breeding section is free of predators such as lions and leopards, and allows Lange and his staff to closely monitor the animals.
“The innovative setup is designed to lower the major threats cheetah cubs face in the wild and considerably increase their survival rate, all the while being raised and ‘educated’ by their mother,” said the Kuzuko statement.
“The protective instinct of the mothers should also kick in, leading the cubs away from lions patrolling the fence, thus sensitising the cubs to bigger predators.”
Chantal Rischard, the German co-founder of Ashia – based in Paarl, Western Cape – said the charity partnered with Kuzuko because it provided “a perfect setup for captive-born and captive-raised cats to gain the necessary fitness and hunting skills for their future life in the wild. Extending the initial wilding and release concept with the breeding venture opens the door to a whole new level of conservation”.
During a visit to Kuzuko by Times Select, Lange said one of his objectives was to close down the commercial cheetah-breeding industry, which had driven up prices for the endangered animals and led to them being sold as pets for vast sums.
With the support of Ashia and Kuzuko owner Dr Kim Tan, it is proposed that male cheetahs from the reserve will be sold to approved buyers for R15,000 and females for R30,000.
Vincent van der Merwe, who co-ordinates the cheetah metapopulation project, said 1,000 animals were needed for SA to have a genetically viable wild population.
The current population of 351, in 54 small fenced reserves, were predominantly male, “so it is absolutely necessary to move individuals between reserves in order to maintain the genetic and demographic integrity of the metapopulation”.
The country also had about 600 cheetahs in almost 70 captive facilities, Van der Merwe told tourismtattler.com “Our aim is to reverse the ‘cheetah sink’ from captive populations to fenced metapopulations, and finally to free-roaming metapopulations. Currently, there is a demand for 32 females and 33 males, bringing the total to 65 cheetahs required for 25 new and existing reserves.
“We need new genetics, and the time has come for the captive cheetah community to play their part. The reality is that captive cheetah facilities have no conservation value unless they are contributing to the conservation of wild cheetah.”

Ashia underwent an intensive accreditation process of working alongside the Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) team to align processes and procedures with FTT’s rigorous requirements

March 15, 2019 

Over the past few months, Ashia underwent an intensive accreditation process of working…

Cheetah Sanctuary Attains Fair Trade Accreditation.

Ashia, a world-class cheetah sanctuary outside Paarl in South Africa’s Western Cape, has this month been awarded Fair Trade Tourism’s ‘mark of best practice’.

Over the past few months, Ashia underwent an intensive accreditation process of working alongside the Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) team to align processes and procedures with FTT’s rigorous requirements. They have successfully been certified against three categories – attractions, volunteers and accommodation.

A Cheetah running at Ashia
Commenting on the accomplishment, Chantal Rischard, founder and co-owner of Ashia states “Be it in the wild or at a sanctuary, wildlife animals should be treated with respect and not seen as ‘performing pets’ to generate income. We are proud to be part of the Fair Trade Tourism-family as FTT is leading in setting the benchmarks for an industry that is in dire need of higher standards and clear protocols.”

Ana Lemmer, FTT’s CEO adds: “Fair Trade Tourism certification is a prestigious accolade for any African tourism business taking its commitment to sustainable tourism seriously and wanting to stand out in the rapidly growing responsible tourism market. Ashia’s existing high standards of business practice combined with a true conservation focus made the process much more streamlined – we are excited to support their ground-breaking conservation initiatives. Ashia has been certified in six months since registering and we salute them as an example of what can be achieved.”

An African name meaning ‘life and hope’, Ashia lies nestled at the foot of the dramatic Drakenstein mountains, providing the perfect setting for its resident cheetahs and the sanctuary’s education, research, fundraising and visitors’ activities.

Aerial view of Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary
Ashia was founded in October 2016 with the purchase of a 35ha working farm in Paarl cultivating grapes, olives and guavas. Over a period of 18 months, 10ha was transformed into the present sanctuary.

At any given time around 14-18 cheetahs, as well as 2 leopards and 3 servals, call Ashia their home. A visit to Ashia offers in-depth educational experiences about small and big cats in human care and cheetah conservation in action.

Cheetah Release Programme.
Dedicated to fighting for the future survival of Africa’s most endangered big cat, Ashia’s focus lies on the release of captive-born cheetahs into the protected wild of selected Private Game Reserves forming the South African Metapopulation.

Ashia’s Release Programme was initiated in 2017 and, after one year of research and discussions, went into operation in August 2018 with the release of a captive-born female cheetah onto Kuzuko, a 15 000ha private game reserve in the Eastern Cape’s Greater Addo area.

Ashia’s primary goal is to help prevent the further decline of cheetah populations and strengthen the gene pool through captive breeding programmes.

Since the end of 2018, several cheetahs have been earmarked for release to undergo their “wilding” process. Ashia works closely with the management of South Africa’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project of Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), who assist in identifying suitable game reserves and provide advice where needed.

Ashia is a not-for-profit undertaking; any financial surplus produced funds Ashia Cheetah Conservation NPC, which finances Ashia’s Cheetah Wilding and Release Programme, linking wildlife conservation and human welfare. Ashia does not support any cheetah trade; all releases take place at their own costs.

Accommodation & Experiences.
Gallery at Ashia.
Visitors and overnight guests can refresh and eat at the Café with its sweeping mountain views, browse through the extensive selection of high-end gifts and memorabilia in the Boutique Shop, or explore the beauty and diversity of the farm on foot. A can’t-miss bucket list activity is signing up for an early morning cheetah run, for the opportunity to watch and photograph the world’s fastest land mammal.

Four luxurious and spacious one- and two-bedroom suites, each en-suite with a fully equipped kitchenette, offer sumptuous comfort in relaxed surroundings. A stay at Ashia includes daily continental breakfast and an Animal & Farm Tour with an experienced guide to provide a first-hand peek behind the scenes into Ashia’s cheetah conservation efforts, as well as the opportunity to observe and ‘meet’ the resident cheetahs, servals and leopards at play in a natural looking environment.

Interior room view at Ashia.
For guests wanting to get more hands-on, various volunteer and internship programmes offer the opportunity to spend purposeful time at Ashia. Gain a deeper insight into the sanctuary’s conservation efforts – volunteer/ internship time can be combined with a stay at a game reserve where cheetahs have been released, or at Cheetah Experience, Ashia’s partner project for ethical cheetah breeding, located in Bloemfontein (Free State).

Ashia’s luxurious Volunteer House can accommodate up to 12 volunteers and is situated on the farm with sweeping views over the cheetah camps, orchards and the Drakenstein mountains. Two spacious, modern cottages next to the Volunteer House offer more privacy for guests wishing to spend a Working Holiday at the sanctuary. This allows the flexibility to choose if, and when, guests want to participate in the usual daily volunteer duties and social activities.

Hands-off Policy
Ashia adheres to Fair Trade Tourism safety protocols and a no-touch policy with the cats on all activities, with very strict policies regarding visitors and volunteers.

Cheetah in an enclosure at Ashia
A maximum number of 10 visitors are allowed in the morning and again in the afternoon so as not to place any stress on the cats. To be part of any activities or to stay overnight, children must be 16 years of age or older. No ‘cub petting’ or experiences with adolescent cheetahs are allowed. As a result, visitors cannot take photos of cheetah cubs. Unfortunately, visitors cannot participate in any enrichment activities for the cats or during feeding times.

To ensure and maintain the wellbeing and health of cheetahs in human care, Ashia staff run and walk them regularly. Visitors are allowed to participate in these activities from inside low secure ‘human enclosures’ that allow amazing photo opportunities without fences.

Visitors understand the no-touch policy and still enjoy being in the vicinity of the cheetahs and hearing their loud purrs. They acknowledge the conservation work Ashia accomplishes with the Release and Wilding Project and accept that Ashia is not a ‘petting place’.

The way the sanctuary manages their cheetah experiences encourages questions and a higher attentiveness, as well as interest in the challenges that the species face than if visitors were distracted by interacting with the animals.

Responsible Tourism.
Ashia further supports small, medium and micro-sizes entrepreneurs by sourcing services and products from suppliers, manufacturers, craftsmen, artisans and artists primarily from the local community, alternatively from the greater Western Cape area, be it for the daily operations and running of the project, the Boutique Shop or the beautifying of the premises.

Cheetah Breeding, Wilding & Release Project formed between Kuzuko Lodge and Ashia Cheetah Conservation NPO.

March 14, 2019

Extending the initial wilding and release concept with the breeding venture opens the door…

Cheetah Release For Metapopulation Legacy.

Cheetah Metapopulation Project.
At this stage, the 300ha Wilding Section is home to a 5-year old male cheetah who is undergoing the wilding and fitness phase and is already hunting regularly. He is earmarked for release on a game reserve in the Eastern Cape by the middle of 2019.

Kuzuko and Ashia both closely work with the management of South Africa’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project of the EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust). The team at EWT assists by identifying suitable game reserves for wilded cheetah and provides invaluable advice where needed.

Male cheetah Ivory at Kuzuko.
Kuzuko’s Breeding and Wilding Sections are at the moment home to six cheetah, consisting of three adult females, one adult male and two adolescent siblings.

“All adult cats made their first kill a mere 6-10 days after being released onto the Wilding and Breeding Section. They are doing exceptionally well, and their personality, behaviour and physical condition changed surprisingly fast. We are in uncharted waters and may experience set-backs but we are convinced it is a very promising way to go forward in cheetah conservation,” states Gerhard de Lange from Kuzuko.

ABOUT THE PARTNERS.
Kuzuko Lodge is built high up on a hill in a 15 000ha private game reserve situated in the Malaria free greater Addo area which is situated in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. This reserve is perfectly situated to start or complete a trip along the Garden Route with. Guests are housed in 24 chalets of which three are wheelchair accessible. Kuzuko is part of the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group and is a member of the Inqo Investments Social Impact Investment Group, which combines job creation, conservation and social transformation.
For more information visit www.kuzuko.com or phone +27 42 203 1700.

Ashia Cheetah Conservation is a registered non-profit company that was set up to manage and finance the Cheetah Release Program. Ashia’s goal is to help prevent the further decline of cheetah populations and increase the genetic gene pool through captive breeding programs. Captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild of selected Private Game Reserves in South Africa. The relatedness of the reserve populations has become an issue and preventing inbreeding without supplementation from outside populations will be practically impossible. Given the limited numbers in the wild, the release of captive-born cheetahs from scientific breeding programs with strict DNA testing and accurate (Studbook) records on origin and parentage is a promising way to respond to the urgent need of reintroducing new genes to strengthen the wild populations.

Safari Accommodation-Near-Cape-Town

December 10, 2018 

This is not a traditional safari experience, but it’s a wonderful way to meet the ambassador…

ASHIA

Ashia is a sanctuary for cheetahs and other beautiful cats, located just outside of Paarl. They’re also pioneering conservation efforts by releasing captive-born cheetahs back into the protected wild. Jasmin, a four-year-old female cheetah, is one of the first in their Cheetah Release Programme to be released at Kuzuko Lodge, a 15 000ha reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. This is not a traditional safari experience, but it’s a wonderful way to meet the ambassador cheetahs and even have the opportunity to watch a cheetah run. At Ashia, there are several luxurious suites. Each is a spacious en-suite unit with a fully equipped kitchenette. It’s right in the heart of the Cape Winelands too, so you could head out for some wine tasting or a delicious estate lunch while you’re in the area. If you prefer a more hands-on experience, you can also volunteer with them.

Travel time from Cape Town: 1 hour
Game: Cheetah, Serval, Leopard
Website: ashia.co.za

Cheetah Eating Springbuck

November 8, 2018

“From our side, Kuzuko Lodge must thank NPO Ashia Cheetah Conservation for…

Jasmin astounds by making first kill in record time and takes significant strides towards her eventual release into the wild

The conservation team at Kuzuko Lodge, managed by Legacy Hotels and Resorts, recently reported that the captive bred cheetah Jasmin, which was donated to Kuzuko by the NPO Ashia Cheetah Conservation, was recently released into a larger holding camp and officially made her own kill.

The significance of this is a critical piece of a carefully constructed conservation puzzle that brings her closer to being released into the wild.

Jasmin, who arrived at Kuzuko Lodge on 29 August 2018, was initially kept in a smaller holding boma to acclimatise, thereafter she underwent a soft release into a 300ha camp on 27 September. Upon her release she picked up the food that had been provided to her in the boma, carried it 20 metres, dropped it and started looking for animals to hunt.

“That very afternoon she was seen chasing impala and we were surprised by her speed, especially considering she has been raised in captivity,” said Gerhard de Lange, Kuzuko Reserve General Manager. “During the next couple of days, she was regularly seen chasing springbok, steenbok and meerkats.

“She made her first springbok kill on Friday 5 October, a mere eight days after her release out of the holding boma. Unfortunately I was not on the property at the time to document it, and it was in a river line. Knowing that there are other animals around this area that could present a danger to people on foot, my team could not photograph it. But we knew that it would only be a matter of time until she killed again, and we could document it for the public to see,” said De Lange.

It was on Monday 15 October, that De Lange then found her hunting in the North-Eastern corner of her camp, but lost visibility of her when she entered a densely vegetated area. At 5pm that afternoon he decided to follow her radio collar signal and started walking in its direction when he came around a corner and there she was, on another springbok kill.

“I rushed back to the vehicle to collect camera equipment to photograph and film this milestone to share with everyone in South Africa who has been following Jasmin’s story. We also had a number of foreign tourists out on the game drive with us that afternoon, who our qualified field guides then took within a safe distance of the site to also experience this incredible feat of Mother Nature. It’s an unbelievable journey we are on and to be able to share this wilding process with people who can take the story of Jasmin home with them, and share with hundreds more, is what conservation is all about,” he said.

With this milestone, the process of wilding Jasmin is well and truly on track and according to the Kuzuko team is “going better than expected”. While De Lange says she still has a way to go to build her full strength, it is important to celebrate the success of her being able to hunt, on her own, for the first time in her life. As a result of the speed at which she has accomplished this she could very well join the two males out on the 15 000ha Kuzuko Reserve sooner than expected.

“The cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat. From a count of 100 000 in 1900, the numbers have dropped to under 7 000 today. Ethical breeding in captivity, such as that we are working on at Ashia Cheetah Conservation, has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species. The release of Jasmin, a captive-born cheetah, into the wild – the first of many to come for Ashia – who is now proving our efforts right through her successes, is a true win for conservation on numerous fronts. A large part of this achievement has been the successful collaboration between the various stakeholders involved,” says Chantal Rischard, co-founder at Ashia Cheetah Conservation.

Like Jasmin, further captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild within selected Private Game Reserves in South Africa through Ashia’s Release Programme. According to Rischard, several potential game reserves have already been identified and visited by the Ashia team and are in the process of applying for the necessary permits.

“I often get asked why does this matter? It’s a huge step for conservation, as a community we need to pool together and help our big cats by diversifying their gene pool in order to ensure the longevity of the species. Jasmin’s DNA, which we have on record, doesn’t have the same structure than the cheetahs in the existing metapopulation, and indicates that she is in fact closely related to captive animals. Therefore, breeding her with existing wild males will create a diversified genepool that can only benefit the cheetah metapopulation,” said De Lange.

“From our side, Kuzuko Lodge must thank NPO Ashia Cheetah Conservation for trusting us with the first wilding process of a captive bred cheetah from its programme. Jasmin will, and is, opening doors for many other captive bred cheetahs to be wilded in suitable areas, and will ultimately secure a more genetically viable wild cheetah population,” De Lange said.

Captive-bred cheetah Jasmin Lays Next To Her First Kill

October 22, 2018

Cape Town – The captive-bred cheetah Jasmin, donated to the Kuzuko Lodge in the Addo…

Captive-bred cheetah makes first kill

Cape Town – The captive-bred cheetah Jasmin, donated to the Kuzuko Lodge in the Addo Elephant National Park by the non-profit organisation Ashia Cheetah Conservation, was recently released into a larger holding camp and has officially made her first kill.
The conservation team at the lodge said the kill was a critical piece of a carefully constructed conservation puzzle that brought her closer to being released into the wild.

Jasmin, who arrived at Kuzuko Lodge on August 29, was initially kept in a smaller holding boma to acclimatise, and later underwent a soft release into a 300ha camp on September 27.

She then picked up the food that had been provided to her in the boma, carried it 20m, dropped it and started looking for animals to hunt.

Kuzuko Reserve general manager Gerhard de Lange said that afternoon she was seen chasing impala and the team were surprised by her speed, as she had been raised in captivity.

“During the next couple of days she was regularly seen chasing springbok, steenbok and meerkats.

“She made her first springbok kill on October 5, a mere eight days after her release out of the holding boma.

“Unfortunately I was not on the property at the time to document it, and it was in a river line.

“Knowing that there are other animals around this area that could present a danger to people on foot, my team could not photograph it.

“But we knew that it would only be a matter of time until she killed again, and we could document it for the public to see,” De Lange added.

Last Monday, De Lange found her hunting in the north-eastern corner of her camp, but lost sight of her when she entered a densely vegetated area.

At 5pm that afternoon he decided to follow her radio collar signal and started walking in its direction when he came around a corner and there she was, on another springbok kill.

“I rushed back to the vehicle to collect camera equipment to photograph and film this milestone to share with everyone in South Africa who has been following Jasmin’s story,” he said.

With this milestone, the process of wilding Jasmin was “well and truly on track” and, according to the Kuzuko team, was going better than expected.

De Lange said while the animal still had a way to go to build her full strength, it was important to “embrace and celebrate the unbelievable success of her being able to hunt, on her own, for the first time in her life.

As a result of the speed at which she had accomplished this, she could very well join the two males out on the 15 000ha Kuzuko Reserve sooner than expected.

Ashia Cheetah Conservation co-founder Chantal Rischard said the cheetah had become Africa’s most endangered big cat.

From a count of 100 000 in 1900, the numbers had dropped to under 7 000 today.

“Ethical breeding in captivity, such as what we are working on at Ashia Cheetah Conservation, has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species.

“The release of Jasmin, a captive-born cheetah, into the wild – the first of many to come for Ashia, who are now proving our efforts right through her successes – is a true win for conservation on numerous fronts.

“A large part of this achievement has been the successful collaboration between the various stakeholders involved,” she said.

More captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild within selected private game reserves in South Africa, and according to Rischard, several potential game reserves have already been identified and visited by the Ashia team, and are in the process of applying for the necessary permits.

“Jasmin’s DNA, which we have on record, doesn’t have the same structure as the cheetahs in the existing meta- population, and indicates that she is in fact closely related to captive animals.

“Therefore, breeding her with existing wild males will create a diversified gene pool that can only benefit the cheetah metapopulation,” De Lange said.

Captive Bred Cheetah Released Into The Protective Wild Made Her First Springbok Kill

October 22, 2018 

The release of Jasmin, a captive-born cheetah, into the wild – the first of many to come for Ashia…

CAPTIVE BORN CHEETAH MAKES HER FIRST KILL.

Jasmin astounds by making first kill in record time and takes significant strides towards her eventual release into the wild

The conservation team at Kuzuko Lodge, managed by Legacy Hotels and Resorts, are happy to report that the captive bred cheetah named Jasmin, which was donated to Kuzuko by the NPO Ashia Cheetah Conservation, was recently released into a larger holding camp and has officially made her own kill.

The significance of this is a critical piece of a carefully constructed conservation puzzle that brings her closer to being released into the wild.

Jasmin, who arrived at Kuzuko Lodge on 29th of August 2018, was initially kept in a smaller holding boma to acclimatise, thereafter she underwent a soft release into a 300ha camp on the 27th of September. Upon her release she picked up the food that had been provided to her in the boma, carried it 20m, dropped it and started looking for animals to hunt.

“That very afternoon she was seen chasing impala and we were surprised by her speed, especially considering she has been raised in captivity,” says Gerhard de Lange, Kuzuko Reserve General Manager. “During the next couple of days, she was regularly seen chasing springbok, steenbok and meerkats.

“She made her first springbok kill on Friday the 5th of October, a mere eight days after her release out of the holding boma. Unfortunately I was not on the property at the time to document it, and it was in a river line. Knowing that there are other animals around this area that could present a danger to people on foot, my team could not photograph it. But we knew that it would only be a matter of time until she killed again, and we could document it for the public to see,” adds De Lange.

It was on Monday the 15th of October, that De Lange then found her hunting in the North-Eastern corner of her camp, but lost visibility of her when she entered a densely vegetated area. At 17h00 that afternoon he decided to follow her radio collar signal and started walking in its direction when he came around a corner and there she was, on another springbok kill.

“I rushed back to the vehicle to collect camera equipment to photograph and film this milestone to share with everyone in South Africa who has been following Jasmin’s story. We also had a number of foreign tourists out on the game drive with us that afternoon, who our qualified field guides then took within a safe distance of the site to also experience this incredible feat of Mother Nature. It’s an unbelievable journey we are on and to be able to share this wilding process with people who can take the story of Jasmin home with them, and share with hundreds more, is what conservation is all about,” he adds.

With this milestone, the process of wilding Jasmin is well and truly on track and according to the Kuzuko team is “going better than expected”. While De Lange says she still has a way to go to build her full strength, it is important to embrace and celebrate the unbelievable success of her being able to hunt, on her own, for the first time in her life. As a result of the speed at which she has accomplished this she could very well join the two males out on the 15 000ha Kuzuko Reserve sooner than expected.

“The cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat. From a count of 100 000 in 1900, the numbers have dropped to under 7 000 today. Ethical breeding in captivity, such as that we are working on at Ashia Cheetah Conservation, has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species. The release of Jasmin, a captive-born cheetah, into the wild – the first of many to come for Ashia – who is now proving our efforts right through her successes, is a true win for conservation on numerous fronts. A large part of this achievement has been the successful collaboration between the various stakeholders involved,” says Chantal Rischard, co-founder at Ashia Cheetah Conservation.

Like Jasmin, further captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild within selected Private Game Reserves in South Africa through Ashia’s Release Programme. According to Rischard, several potential game reserves have already been identified and visited by the Ashia team and are in the process of applying for the necessary permits.

“I often get asked why does this matter? It’s a huge step for conservation, as a community we need to pool together and help our big cats by diversifying their gene pool in order to ensure the longevity of the species. Jasmin’s DNA, which we have on record, doesn’t have the same structure than the cheetahs in the existing metapopulation, and indicates that she is in fact closely related to captive animals. Therefore, breeding her with existing wild males will create a diversified genepool that can only benefit the cheetah metapopulation,” states De Lange.

“From our side, Kuzuko Lodge must thank NPO Ashia Cheetah Conservation for trusting us with the first wilding process of a captive bred cheetah from its programme. Jasmin will, and is, opening doors for many other captive bred cheetahs to be wilded in suitable areas, and will ultimately secure a more genetically viable wild cheetah population,” ends De Lange.

Captive-bred cheetah makes first kill

October 19, 2018

The conservation team at Kuzuko Lodge, managed by Legacy Hotels and Resorts, are happy to…

Road to recovery: Captive-born Cheetah makes her first kill as a free animal.

Jasmin astounds by making first kill in record time and takes significant strides towards her eventual release into the wild.

The conservation team at Kuzuko Lodge, managed by Legacy Hotels and Resorts, are happy to report that the captive bred cheetah named Jasmin, which was donated to Kuzuko by the NPO Ashia Cheetah Conservation, was recently released into a larger holding camp and has officially made her own kill.

The significance of this is a critical piece of a carefully constructed conservation puzzle that brings her closer to being released into the wild.

Jasmin, who arrived at Kuzuko Lodge on 29th of August 2018, was initially kept in a smaller holding boma to acclimatise, thereafter she underwent a soft release into a 300ha camp on the 27th of September. Upon her release she picked up the food that had been provided to her in the boma, carried it 20m, dropped it and started looking for animals to hunt.

“That very afternoon she was seen chasing impala and we were surprised by her speed, especially considering she has been raised in captivity,” says Gerhard de Lange, Kuzuko Reserve General Manager. “During the next couple of days, she was regularly seen chasing springbok, steenbok and meerkats.

“She made her first springbok kill on Friday the 5th of October, a mere eight days after her release out of the holding boma. Unfortunately I was not on the property at the time to document it, and it was in a river line. Knowing that there are other animals around this area that could present a danger to people on foot, my team could not photograph it. But we knew that it would only be a matter of time until she killed again, and we could document it for the public to see,” adds De Lange.

It was on Monday the 15th of October, that De Lange then found her hunting in the North-Eastern corner of her camp, but lost visibility of her when she entered a densely vegetated area. At 17h00 that afternoon he decided to follow her radio collar signal and started walking in its direction when he came around a corner and there she was, on another springbok kill.

“I rushed back to the vehicle to collect camera equipment to photograph and film this milestone to share with everyone in South Africa who has been following Jasmin’s story. We also had a number of foreign tourists out on the game drive with us that afternoon, who our qualified field guides then took within a safe distance of the site to also experience this incredible feat of Mother Nature. It’s an unbelievable journey we are on and to be able to share this wilding process with people who can take the story of Jasmin home with them, and share with hundreds more, is what conservation is all about,” he adds.

With this milestone, the process of wilding Jasmin is well and truly on track and according to the Kuzuko team is “going better than expected”. While De Lange says she still has a way to go to build her full strength, it is important to embrace and celebrate the unbelievable success of her being able to hunt, on her own, for the first time in her life. As a result of the speed at which she has accomplished this she could very well join the two males out on the 15 000ha Kuzuko Reserve sooner than expected.

“The cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat. From a count of 100 000 in 1900, the numbers have dropped to under 7 000 today. Ethical breeding in captivity, such as that we are working on at Ashia Cheetah Conservation, has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species. The release of Jasmin, a captive-born cheetah, into the wild – the first of many to come for Ashia – who is now proving our efforts right through her successes, is a true win for conservation on numerous fronts. A large part of this achievement has been the successful collaboration between the various stakeholders involved,” says Chantal Rischard, co-founder at Ashia Cheetah Conservation.

Like Jasmin, further captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild within selected Private Game Reserves in South Africa through Ashia’s Release Programme. According to Rischard, several potential game reserves have already been identified and visited by the Ashia team and are in the process of applying for the necessary permits.

“I often get asked why does this matter? It’s a huge step for conservation, as a community we need to pool together and help our big cats by diversifying their gene pool in order to ensure the longevity of the species. Jasmin’s DNA, which we have on record, doesn’t have the same structure than the cheetahs in the existing metapopulation, and indicates that she is in fact closely related to captive animals. Therefore, breeding her with existing wild males will create a diversified genepool that can only benefit the cheetah metapopulation,” states De Lange.

“From our side, Kuzuko Lodge must thank NPO Ashia Cheetah Conservation for trusting us with the first wilding process of a captive bred cheetah from its programme. Jasmin will, and is, opening doors for many other captive bred cheetahs to be wilded in suitable areas, and will ultimately secure a more genetically viable wild cheetah population,” ends De Lange.

News Release of Captive Cheetah making her first Kill

October 18, 2018

Ethical breeding in captivity, such as that we are working on at Ashia Cheetah Conservation…

Captive Born Cheetah Makes Her First Kill.

The conservation team at Kuzuko Lodge, managed by Legacy Hotels and Resorts, are happy to report that the captive bred cheetah named Jasmin, which was donated to Kuzuko by the NPO Ashia Cheetah Conservation, was recently released into a larger holding camp and has officially made her own kill.  The significance of this is a critical piece of a carefully constructed conservation puzzle that brings her closer to being released into the wild.

Jasmin, who arrived at Kuzuko Lodge on 29th of August 2018, was initially kept in a smaller holding boma to acclimatise, thereafter she underwent a soft release into a 300ha camp on the 27th of September. Upon her release she picked up the food that had been provided to her in the boma, carried it 20m, dropped it and started looking for animals to hunt.

“That very afternoon she was seen chasing impala and we were surprised by her speed, especially considering she has been raised in captivity,” says Gerhard de Lange, Kuzuko Reserve General Manager. “During the next couple of days, she was regularly seen chasing springbok, steenbok and meerkats.

“She made her first springbok kill on Friday the 5th of October, a mere eight days after her release out of the holding boma. Unfortunately I was not on the property at the time to document it, and it was in a river line. Knowing that there are other animals around this area that could present a danger to people on foot, my team could not photograph it. But we knew that it would only be a matter of time until she killed again, and we could document it for the public to see,” adds De Lange.

It was on Monday the 15th of October, that De Lange then found her hunting in the North-Eastern corner of her camp, but lost visibility of her when she entered a densely vegetated area. At 17h00 that afternoon he decided to follow her radio collar signal and started walking in its direction when he came around a corner and there she was, on another springbok kill.

“I rushed back to the vehicle to collect camera equipment to photograph and film this milestone to share with everyone in South Africa who has been following Jasmin’s story. We also had a number of foreign tourists out on the game drive with us that afternoon, who our qualified field guides then took within a safe distance of the site to also experience this incredible feat of Mother Nature. It’s an unbelievable journey we are on and to be able to share this wilding process with people who can take the story of Jasmin home with them, and share with hundreds more, is what conservation is all about,” he adds.

With this milestone, the process of wilding Jasmin is well and truly on track and according to the Kuzuko team is “going better than expected”. While De Lange says she still has a way to go to build her full strength, it is important to embrace and celebrate the unbelievable success of her being able to hunt, on her own, for the first time in her life. As a result of the speed at which she has accomplished this she could very well join the two males out on the 15 000ha Kuzuko Reserve sooner than expected.

“The cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat. From a count of 100 000 in 1900, the numbers have dropped to under 7 000 today. Ethical breeding in captivity, such as that we are working on at Ashia Cheetah Conservation, has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species. The release of Jasmin, a captive-born cheetah, into the wild – the first of many to come for Ashia – who is now proving our efforts right through her successes, is a true win for conservation on numerous fronts. A large part of this achievement has been the successful collaboration between the various stakeholders involved,” says Chantal Rischard, co-founder at Ashia Cheetah Conservation.

Like Jasmin, further captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild within selected Private Game Reserves in South Africa through Ashia’s Release Programme. According to Rischard, several potential game reserves have already been identified and visited by the Ashia team and are in the process of applying for the necessary permits.

“I often get asked why does this matter? It’s a huge step for conservation, as a community we need to pool together and help our big cats by diversifying their gene pool in order to ensure the longevity of the species. Jasmin’s DNA, which we have on record, doesn’t have the same structure than the cheetahs in the existing metapopulation, and indicates that she is in fact closely related to captive animals. Therefore, breeding her with existing wild males will create a diversified genepool that can only benefit the cheetah metapopulation,” states De Lange.

“From our side, Kuzuko Lodge must thank NPO Ashia Cheetah Conservation for trusting us with the first wilding process of a captive bred cheetah from its programme. Jasmin will, and is, opening doors for many other captive bred cheetahs to be wilded in suitable areas, and will ultimately secure a more genetically viable wild cheetah population,” ends De Lange.

ABOUT ASHIA CHEETAH CONSERVATION:
Ashia Cheetah Conservation is a registered non-profit company that was set up by Ashia (www.ashia.co.za) in cooperation with Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein (www.cheetahexperience.com) to manage and finance the Cheetah Release Programme.
Cheetahs are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red list due to loss of habitat, human-wildlife conflict, poaching, trophy hunting or illegal pet trade. Ashia’s goal is to help prevent the further decline of cheetah populations and increase the genetic gene pool through captive breeding programmes. Captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild of selected Private Game Reserves in South Africa. The relatedness of the reserve populations has become an issue and preventing inbreeding without supplementation from outside populations will be practically impossible. Given the limited numbers in the wild, the release of captive-born cheetahs from scientific breeding programmes with strict DNA testing and accurate (Studbook) records on origin and parentage is a promising way to respond to the urgent need of reintroducing new genetic lines to strengthen the wild populations.

ABOUT ASHIA:
A mere 45-minute drive from Cape Town, Ashia is surrounded by award winning wineries and orchards. Grapes, guavas, olives, and a smaller crop of home-grown produce are cultivated on this beautiful 35 hectare working agricultural farm. Ashia is a not-for-profit undertaking. All surplus is used to help fund conservation initiatives and the Cheetah Release Programme, as well as educating the need to help save the cheetah. As grateful as it is to all its supporters, Ashia does not rely solely on donations, grants or fundraising schemes but continuously seeks new business models and ideas to raise needed funds in a sustainable manner.

Released Captive-Bred Cheetah Jasmin Lying Down In The Bush With Her Very First Kill, A Springbok

October 15, 2018

Like Jasmin, further captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild within…

Captive born cheetah makes her first kill.

A captive-bred cheetah named Jasmin – which was donated to Kuzuko Lodge by the NPO Ashia Cheetah Conservation – was recently released into a larger holding camp and has officially made her first kill.

The significance of this is a critical piece of a carefully constructed conservation puzzle that brings her closer to being released into the wild.

Jasmin arrived at Kuzuko Lodge on 29 August 2018 and was initially kept in a smaller holding boma to acclimatise. A month later she underwent a soft release into a 300ha camp. Upon her release she picked up the food that had been provided to her in the boma, carried it 20m, dropped it and started looking for animals to hunt.

“That very afternoon she was seen chasing impala and we were surprised by her speed, especially considering she has been raised in captivity,” says Gerhard de Lange, Kuzuko Reserve General Manager. “During the next couple of days, she was regularly seen chasing springbok, steenbok and meerkats.

“She made her first springbok kill on Friday the 5 October, only eight days after her release out of the holding boma. Unfortunately I was not on the property at the time to document it, and it was in a river line. Knowing that there are other animals around this area that could present a danger to people on foot, my team could not photograph it. But we knew that it would only be a matter of time until she killed again, and we could document it for the public to see,” adds De Lange.

On Monday 15 October De Lange found her hunting in the North-Eastern corner of her camp, but lost visibility of her when she entered a densely vegetated area. At 17h00 that afternoon he decided to follow her radio collar signal and started walking in its direction when he came around a corner and there she was, on another springbok kill.

“I rushed back to the vehicle to collect camera equipment to photograph and film this milestone to share with everyone in South Africa who has been following Jasmin’s story. We also had a number of foreign tourists out on the game drive with us that afternoon, who our qualified field guides then took within a safe distance of the site to also experience this incredible feat of Mother Nature. It’s an unbelievable journey we are on and to be able to share this wilding process with people who can take the story of Jasmin home with them, and share with hundreds more, is what conservation is all about,” he adds.

With this milestone, the process of wilding Jasmin is well and truly on track and according to the Kuzuko team is “going better than expected”. While De Lange says she still has a way to go to build her full strength, it is important to embrace and celebrate the success of her being able to hunt on her own, for the first time in her life. As a result of the speed at which she has accomplished this she could very well join the two males out on the 15,000ha Kuzuko Reserve sooner than expected.

“The cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat. From a count of 100,000 in 1900, the numbers have dropped to under 7,000 today. Ethical breeding in captivity, such as that we are working on at Ashia Cheetah Conservation, has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species. The release of Jasmin, a captive-born cheetah, into the wild – the first of many to come for Ashia – who is now proving our efforts right through her successes, is a true win for conservation on numerous fronts. A large part of this achievement has been the successful collaboration between the various stakeholders involved,” says Chantal Rischard, co-founder at Ashia Cheetah Conservation.

Like Jasmin, further captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild within selected Private Game Reserves in South Africa through Ashia’s Release Programme. According to Rischard, several potential game reserves have already been identified and visited by the Ashia team and are in the process of applying for the necessary permits.

“I often get asked why does this matter? It’s a huge step for conservation, as a community we need to pool together and help our big cats by diversifying their gene pool in order to ensure the longevity of the species. Jasmin’s DNA, which we have on record, doesn’t have the same structure than the cheetahs in the existing metapopulation, and indicates that she is in fact closely related to captive animals. Therefore, breeding her with existing wild males will create a diversified gene pool that can only benefit the cheetah metapopulation,” states De Lange.

Kuzuko Lodge is part of the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group and is situated on a 15,000ha private game reserve situated in the malaria free greater Addo area, Eastern Cape Province

Ashia Cheetah Conservation is a registered non-profit company that was set up by Ashia in cooperation with Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein to manage and finance the Cheetah Release Programme.

Jasmin is the first cat from the Ashia Cheetah Release Program to be “wilded”

September 22, 2018

Jasmin is the first cat from the Ashia Cheetah Release Program to be “wilded”. She is in…

Captive-born cheetah settling in well at Addo reserve

 22 September 2018

Captive-born cheetah Jasmin is responding favourably to her gentle introduction to the wild, thanks to the efforts of a very patient team of conservationists at Kuzuko Lodge in the Eastern Cape and the vision of a non-profit organisation based in Paarl.
Jasmin is the first cat from the Ashia Cheetah Release Programme to be “wilded”. She is in the initial holding boma at Kuzuko, in the greater Addo area, where she is being introduced to the elements under careful watch.
Ashia Cheetah Conservation was set up to fund and manage the release programme of Ashia, a new world-class sanctuary and working farm outside Paarl.
The organisation donated Jasmin to Kuzuko while also funding her transportation and veterinary bills during the relocation process.
Jasmin, described as feisty and inquisitive, is in the same boma De Lange and his team used to rehabilitate Sylvester the lion, which has been at Kuzuko since 2016.
The larger of the two bomas was also the initial home for Nika and Angel, two orphan lioness cubs raised to be wild from just five months old. They were successfully released into the reserve where they now hunt and thrive, forming a pride with Sylvester and another lion, Fielies.
Following her journey from Ashia’s partner project, Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, Jasmin was released into the boma at the end of August after an uneventful seven-hour journey. Kuzuko reserve general manager Gerhard de Lange, said she was curious about her surroundings from the minute she took her first steps at Kuzuko, and with no prompting was displaying all the natural instincts he had looked for when he first met her in her enclosure in Bloemfontein several months ago.
“Sadly cheetahs are easily domesticated, which is one of the reasons they are under threat,” De Lange said. “When looking for a cheetah female [for] Kuzuko, where we already have two male cheetahs, I was introduced to Jasmin and spent several hours observing her from a distance. “She showed a number of signs that identified her as the perfect candidate, including constantly looking up and around her while she feeds.
“She has already fed on her first ever carcass – a huge litmus test for her,” he said. “At first she was wary of the carcass, but soon realised this was food and approached it in exactly the same way a cheetah in the wild would. “She disembowelled it, ate the innards, cracked the cartilage at the joints and devoured the whole animal – all of this in just four days from her arrival.
“No one has taught her, no one prompted her, we keep our distance entirely and let mother nature do its work,” he added.
Jasmin’s eventual release will be part of a carefully planned programme. From the smaller boma there will be a soft release into a larger 300ha area, where she will be encouraged to hunt on her own. Here she will also be able to patrol the fence and be exposed to other animals on the reserve, including lions.
“The lions will be her biggest test. She will need to show signs of fear and respect for the lions as they are a cheetah’s biggest natural enemy. “When she shows she is wary of them, has been able to hunt on her own and exhibited other behaviour traits we are looking for, we will be able to then start calculating her ultimate release into the 15,000ha reserve,” he said. “If at any stage during her wilding process she does not exhibit the signs we are looking for, I will pull the plug on the process.”
De Lange said the SA cheetah population was under threat in part because of habitat loss, but also as a result of poaching and the ongoing trade in live animals.“The success of this project will not only help us increase the cheetah population at Kuzuko, but will lay the foundation for a much bigger conservation future for these big cats.” Ashia co-founder Chantal Rischard said the cheetah was Africa’s most endangered big cat. From 100,000 in 1900, the numbers have dropped to less than 7,000 today. “Ethical breeding in captivity has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species.”
Other captive-born cheetahs will be released at selected private  reserves in SA through Ashia’s release programme.
For more information on Kuzuko, which is managed by the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group, visit www.kuzuko.com or www.kuzukolodge.co.za or call 042-203-1700. For more on Ashia visit www.ashia.co.za or call 021-201-4774…

Magazine Layout Style Articles Cheetah Side View Face

September 16, 2018

Cape Town – Jasmin is exceptionally cheeky and energetic. But those are just some of the…

Born captive, running free.

 

Cape Town – Jasmin is exceptionally cheeky and energetic.

But those are just some of the endearing qualities the cheetah cub’s handler and co-founder of Ashia Cheetah Conservation, Chantal Rischard, is going to miss about her.

The 4-year-old big cat was returned to the wild last week after she was raised in captivity. Jasmin is one of the first cheetahs born into captivity to be released back into a reserve.

Ashia Cheetah Conservation, based in Bloemfontein, was her home for the past four years. The cheetah was transported to the Kuzuko Lodge in the Eastern Cape where she was placed in the care of game ranger Gerhard de Lange.

On her arrival at the lodge she was released into a boma, a special enclosure which will help her adapt to her new home and encourage her to acclimatise to her new surroundings.

De Lange said that the perception that cheetahs couldn’t be placed back into the wild was false. With the right climate a cheetah could thrive being back in its natural habitat.

“It is totally possible to put a cheetah back into the wild. Their natural instincts kick in, the biggest one is the inherent instinct to survive,” said De Lange.

But he admitted to challenges. “In Jasmin’s case we are releasing her into an initial 300-hectare camp to encourage a ‘through the fence encounter’ with the lions to gauge her reaction. Lions are a cheetah’s biggest enemy in the wild so we will quickly be able to see how she responds.”

In the camp there are animals that Jasmin will be able to hunt and once she has proven that she can show the lions “respect” she will be placed in a 15000-hectare expanse that also includes two male cheetahs.

De Lange said the best way to bring up a cheetah in captivity to be re-entered into the wild was to ensure minimal human contact. The animals also had to have the right fight-and-flight responses, which was evident in the way they fed and how they engaged with people.

“(She) is better day by day. When we gave her her first carcass she was very suspicious of it, then she took it, disembowelled it and ate all the organs and cartilage, breaking open the joints – exactly as she would in the wild and nobody taught her that,” said De Lange.

Rischard said the cheetah was South Africa’s most endangered big cat. Numbers have decreased from 100000 in 1900 to under 7000 today.

“Ethical breeding in captivity has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species,” said Rischard.

Kuzuko is also home to the lion, Sylvester, who gained notoriety after escaping from the Kruger National Park twice, walking more than 370km outside of the park. This week it was discovered that Sylvester’s lioness partner, Angel, had birthed two cubs in June.

According to De Lange, the cubs are approximately 12 weeks old and in good health. Their mother Angel, is another success story, as she was rescued at 5 months old with her sister as an orphan and instead of being tamed or raised in captivity, De Lange and his reserve team raised them in the wild.

Business Traveller Africa Cheetah Conservation

Sept 13, 2018

“There are a number of factors to consider when ‘wilding’ a cheetah born in captivity. Firstly…

Legacy’s conservation efforts

13/09/2018

The Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group is part of the rehabilitation programme for four-year-old captive-born cheetah named Jasmin.

Jasmin is part of a captive breeding programme run by Ashia Cheetah Conservation, a registered non-profit company, which is trying to restore cheetah numbers in the wild.

“The cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat. From a count of 100 000 in 1900, the numbers have dropped to under 7 000 today. Ethical breeding in captivity has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species,” says Chantal Rischard, co-founder at Ashia.

On 29 August, Jasmin was released into the protected wild at Kuzuko Lodge, a private game reserve in the greater Addo area managed by Legacy.

After initial visits to Kuzuko Lodge and discussions with its Reserve General Manager, Gerhard de Lange, it was found that this private game reserve in the Eastern Cape would be the ideal location for the first release of an Ashia cheetah into a protected wild area.

Jasmin’s integration into the wild starts with boma living. Once she is settled in the boma, she will be moved to a 300 hectare enclosure before her eventual release into the expanse of the 15,000 hectare reserve.

Feisty and independent, Jasmin has settled in well so far and will soon be introduced to the other two resident male cheetahs on the reserve.

“There are a number of factors to consider when ‘wilding’ a cheetah born in captivity. Firstly, they need to have the right fight and flight responses, which can be evidenced in the way they feed and how they engage with people. Jasmin ticked all the boxes and in her short time in the boma, she is already exhibiting numerous traits that we believe will assist her smooth transition into the greater Kuzuko,” says De Lange.

Close up photo of cheetah's face, displaying its tear mark, staring into the distance.

September 10, 2018 

ASHIA Cheetah Conservation has accomplished the first phase of the release… 

Captive cheetah released into wild

ASHIA Cheetah Conservation has accomplished the first phase of the release of a 4-year-old captive-born cheetah named Jasmin into the protected wild. The non-profit company was set up to finance and manage the release programme of Ashia, a new world-class sanctuary outside Paarl.

Ashia’s first release took place at Kuzuko Lodge. Jasmin grew up at Ashia’s partner project Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein.

Co-founder at Ashia Chantal Rischard said: “The cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat. From a count of 100 000 in 1900, the numbers have dropped to under 7 000 today.

“Ethical breeding in captivity has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species. The release of a captive-born cheetah into the wild – the first of many to come from Ashia – is a true win for conservation on numerous fronts.”

After initial visits to Kuzuko Lodge and discussions with its reserve general manager, Gerhard de Lange, it was found that this private game reserve in the Eastern Cape would be the ideal location for the first release of an Ashia cheetah into a protected wild area.

Jasmin, the first feline to be the chosen for the Cheetah Release Programme, made her way to her new home after a smooth and uneventful seven-hour drive from Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, which has been her home for the past four years. On her arrival at Kuzuko Lodge she was released into a boma, a special enclosure which will be her initial home for a short period; here she will be encouraged to acclimatise to her new surroundings.

From here, Jasmin will be released into a larger 300ha enclosure, the next step in her reintegration before her eventual release into the expanse of the 15 000ha reserve. Feisty and independent, Jasmin has settled in well so far and will soon be introduced to the other two resident male cheetahs on the reserve.

“There are a number of factors to consider when ‘wilding’ a cheetah born in captivity. Firstly, they need to have the right fight and flight responses, which can be evidenced in the way they feed and how they engage with people,” said De Lange

“Jasmin ticked all the boxes and in her short time in the boma, she is already exhibiting numerous traits that we believe will assist her smooth transition into the greater Kuzuko reserve.”

Cheetah staring into distance while standing in front of Kuzuko Lodge signboard.

September 07, 2018 

Ethical breeding in captivity has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and…

Captive-born cheetah ready to take a walk on the wild side

07 September 2018 – 15:42

A captive-born cheetah is on her way to a life in the wild in the Eastern Cape.

The feline‚ named Jasmin‚ has been moved from Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein to a boma at a private game reserve near Addo.

Next‚ she will be released into a larger 300ha enclosure before being allowed to roam the 15‚000ha surrounding Kuzuko Lodge.

The cheetah is the first to be freed under a release programme introduced by Ashia Cheetah Conservation‚ a new sanctuary in Paarl‚ in the Western Cape.

Jasmin was released on August 29 at Kuzuko Lodge and will soon be introduced to its two male cheetahs.

Reserve general manager Gerhard de Lange said he was encouraged by her progress so far.

“There are a number of factors to consider when ‘wilding’ a cheetah born in captivity‚” he said. “Firstly‚ they need to have the right fight and flight responses‚ which can be evidenced in the way they feed and how they engage with people.

“Jasmin ticked all the boxes and in her short time in the boma‚ she is already exhibiting numerous traits that we believe will assist her smooth transition into the greater Kuzuko.”

Once she is in the 300ha area‚ Jasmin will be gradually exposed to a small pride of lions‚ animals regarded as the biggest threat to wild cheetahs.

A statement on Friday by Ashia said the lions would be allowed to approach the fence restricting Jasmin‚ giving her “the opportunity to identify them as a threat in her new environment”.

Other game reserves have been identified for the release of captive-born cheetahs and they are applying for permits.

Ashia co-founder Chantal Rischard said cheetahs were Africa’s most endangered big cat. “From a count of 100‚000 in 1900‚ the numbers have dropped to under 7‚000 today.

“Ethical breeding in captivity has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species. The release of a captive-born cheetah into the wild is a true win for conservation on numerous fronts‚ with a large part of the achievement being the successful collaboration between the various stakeholders involved.”

Ashia said one of the primary aims of its release programme was to diversify the cheetah gene pool.

“Given the limited numbers in the wild‚ the release of captive-born cheetahs from scientific breeding programmes with strict DNA testing and accurate (studbook) records on origin and parentage is a promising way to respond to the urgent need of reintroducing new blood lines to strengthen the wild populations.”

Cheetah standing and staring into camera.

September 07, 2018 

The release of a captive-born cheetah into the wild, the first of many to come for Ashia – is a…

CAPTIVE-BORN CHEETAH RELEASED INTO THE PROTECTED WILD

07 September 2018

Ashia Cheetah Conservation, a registered non-profit company, has accomplished the first phase of the release of a four year old captive-born cheetah named Jasmin, into the protected wild. The non-profit company was set up to finance and manage the Release Programme of Ashia, a new world-class sanctuary and working farm outside Paarl in South Africa’s Western Cape (www.ashia.co.za).

Ashia’s first release took place at Kuzuko Lodge on Wednesday 29 August, a private game reserve in the greater Addo area managed by the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group. Jasmin grew up at Ashia’s partner project Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein (www.cheetahexperience.com), owned by Riana van Nieuwenhuizen, a director of the sanctuary and a board member of the non-profit company.

“The cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat. From a count of 100 000 in 1900, the numbers have dropped to under 7 000 today. Ethical breeding in captivity has become essential to ensure the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species. The release of a captive-born cheetah into the wild – the first of many to come for Ashia – is a true win for conservation on numerous fronts, with a large part of the achievement being the successful collaboration between the various stakeholders involved,” says Chantal Rischard, co-founder at Ashia.

After initial visits to Kuzuko Lodge and discussions with its Reserve General Manager, Gerhard de Lange, it was found that this private game reserve in the Eastern Cape would be the ideal location for the first release of an Ashia cheetah into a protected wild area. The experience, passion and dedication of Gerhard and his rangers showed for cheetahs and other big cats, as well as the suitable terrain, stunning location and substantial size of the reserve convinced Ashia’s team that they had found the right place for Jasmin to take her first steps into the wild. Furthermore, Kuzuko Lodge is a member of Inqo Investments Social Impact Investment Group, which combines job creation, conservation and transformation.

Jasmin, the first feline to be the chosen for the Cheetah Release Programme, made her way to her new home after a smooth and uneventful seven-hour drive from Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, which has been her home for the past four years. On her arrival at Kuzuko Lodge she was released into a boma, a special enclosure which will be her initial home for a short period; here she will be encouraged to acclimatise to her new surroundings.

From here, Jasmin will be released into a larger 300 ha enclosure, the next step in her reintegration before her eventual release into the expanse of the 15 000 ha reserve. Feisty and independent, Jasmin has settled in well so far and will soon be introduced to the other two resident male cheetahs on the reserve.

“There are a number of factors to consider when ‘wilding’ a cheetah born in captivity. Firstly, they need to have the right fight and flight responses, which can be evidenced in the way they feed and how they engage with people. Jasmin ticked all the boxes and in her short time in the boma, she is already exhibiting numerous traits that we believe will assist her smooth transition into the greater Kuzuko,” states Gerhard de Lange, Reserve General Manager at Kuzuko Lodge.

According to De Lange, while Jasmin is in the 300-ha area, a gradual process of introduction to a small and well monitored lion pride will be undertaken, to allow her natural protective instincts to kick in. Lions are generally a cheetah’s biggest threat in a wilderness area; by letting the lions come up to the fence Jasmin will be afforded the opportunity to identify them as a threat in her new environment, allowing her to respond accordingly once she is released into the reserve.

Daily monitoring is currently being undertaken by the Kuzuko conservation team, and Jasmin has been fitted with a tracking collar to enable them to keep a close eye on her once she is released into the larger enclosure.

Like Jasmin, further captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild of selected Private Game Reserves in South Africa through Ashia’s Release Programme. Several potential game reserves have already been identified and visited and are in the process of applying for the necessary permits.

Distant photo of cheetah sitting on a rock.

September 07, 2018 

Geoardenliebe und Unterkunft – Bei Ashia wohnen Tiere und Menschen zusammen…

Gepardenliebe und Unterkunft – Bei Ashia wohnen Tiere und Menschen zusammen.

Am 7. September 2018 hat Ashia Cheetah Conservation eröffnet und einen Einblick in die neue Farm mit angrenzenden Unterkünften in Paarl gegeben. Das gemeinützige Unternehmen verwaltet Freisetzungsprogramme für Geparden.

Ashia Cheetah Conservation, eine eingetragene Non-Profit-Organisation, hat die erste Phase der Freilassung eines vier Jahre alten in Gefangenschaft geborenen Geparden namens Jasmin in die geschützte Wildnis geschafft. Das gemeinnützige Unternehmen wurde gegründet, um das Auswilderungsprogramm von Ashia zu finanzieren und zu verwalten.

Ashia, ein afrikanischer Name, der “Leben und Hoffnung” bedeutet, liegt am Fuße der Drakensteinberge in der Nähe von Paarl. Es bietet eine Einrichtung für von Hand aufgezogene Botschafter-Geparden und ein sicheres Refugium für pensionierte oder besonders pflegebedürftige Tiere.

Cheetah Experience Ashia wurde im Jahr 2016 von Mitgründern und Direktoren, dem Ehepaar Chantal Rischard und Stephan Illenberger und Riana van Nieuwenhuizen, Gründerin von Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein gegründet. Ermutigt durch den Erfolg und der öffentliche Resonanz auf ihr Projekt in Bloemfontein, realisierte Riana ihren Traum von einem sicheren Hafen in der Nähe von Kapstadt. Dies würde ein Zuhause für pensionierte und von Hand gezüchtete Botschafter- Geparden und andere Wildkatzen werden.

Nur 45 Fahrminuten von Kapstadt entfernt erwartet dich das Cheetah Experience Ashia umgeben von preisgekrönten Weingütern und Obstgärten. Trauben, Guaven, Oliven und eine kleinere Ernte von einheimischen Produkten werden auf 35 Hektar großen landwirtschaftlichen Bauernhof angebaut.

Luxuriöse Unterkünfte für Gäste, die das Farmleben in entspannter Atmosphäre erleben möchten. Vier geräumige Suiten bieten opulenten Komfort in entspannter Umgebung, jedes davon mit einer voll ausgestatteten Küchenzeile. Erfrische dich und esse im Café mit seinem atemberaubenden Blick auf die Drakenstein Berge, stöbere durch die umfangreiche Auswahl an hochwertigen Geschenken und Erinnerungsstücken im Boutique Shop, oder erkunde die Schönheit und Vielfalt der Farm zu Fuß. In jedem Aufenthalt inbegriffen ist täglich kontinentales Frühstück, Tier-und Bauernhof-Tour (morgens oder nachmittags je nach Saisonplan und Wetter) und Zugang zur Erkundung der Farm.

Hier findest du noch mehr Unterkünfte, die von Deutschen in der Nähe von Kapstadt geführt werden. Darf es doch etwas außergewähnlicher sein? Dann schaue bei unseren ungewöhnlichen Unterkünften vorbei.
Südafrika ist bekannt für wunderbare Strände und spektakuläre Sonnenuntergänge.
Ein Haus direkt am Strand ist also genau das Richtige.

Cheetah staring into distance while standing in front of Kuzuko Lodge signboard.

September 07, 2018

Ashia hosted guests and media at their cheetah sanctuary to officially announce the release…

First Captive-born Cheetah Released at Kuzuko Lodge.

CAPE TOWN, Paarl, 07 September 2018 – Cheetah Experience Ashia hosted guests and media at their cheetah sanctuary today to officially announce and celebrate the release of their first captive-born cheetah into the protected wild at Kuzuko Lodge, a private game reserve in the greater Addo area of the Eastern Cape, managed by the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group.

The four-year-old captive-born cheetah named Jasmin, the first feline to be chosen by Ashia Cheetah Conservation – a registered non-profit company set up to finance and manage the Release Programme of Ashia – made her way to her new home on Wednesday 29 August following a smooth and uneventful seven-hour drive from Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, a partner project owned by Riana van Nieuwenhuizen, a director of the sanctuary and a board member of the non-profit company.

Addressing guests, Ashia’s co-founder Stephan Illenberger said: “The cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat. From a count of 100 000 in 1900, the numbers have dropped to under 7 000 today. Ethical breeding in captivity has become essential to ensuring the long-term survival and viable genetic diversity of the species. The release of a captive-born cheetah into the wild – the first of many to come for Ashia – is a true win for conservation on numerous fronts, with a large part of the achievement being due to the successful collaboration between the various stakeholders involved.”

“After initial visits to Kuzuko Lodge, it was found that this private game reserve would be the ideal location for the first release of an Ashia cheetah into a protected wild area. The experience, passion and dedication shown by Kuzuko’s rangers for cheetahs and other big cats, as well as the suitable terrain, stunning location and substantial size of the reserve, convinced us that we had found the right place for Jasmin to take her first steps into the wild. Furthermore, Kuzuko Lodge is a member of Inqo Investments Social Impact Investment Group, which combines job creation, conservation and transformation,” said Illenberger.

Gerhard de Lange, Reserve General Manager at Kuzuko Lodge, told guests that Jasmin was released into a boma on her arrival at Kuzuko Lodge. This special enclosure will be her initial home for a short period where she will be encouraged to acclimatise to her new surroundings. From here, Jasmin will be released into a larger 300 ha enclosure, the next step in her integration before her eventual release into the expanse of the 15 000 ha reserve.

“There are a number of factors to consider when ‘wilding’ a cheetah born in captivity. Firstly, they need to have the right fight and flight responses, which can be evidenced in the way they feed and how they engage with people. Jasmin ticked all the boxes and in her short time in the boma, she is already exhibiting numerous traits that we believe will assist her smooth transition into the greater Kuzuko. So far she has settled in well and will soon be introduced to the other two resident male cheetahs on the reserve,” said de Lange.

According to De Lange, while Jasmin is in the 300-ha area, a gradual process of introduction to a small and well-monitored lion pride will be undertaken, allowing her natural protective instincts to kick in. Lions are generally a cheetah’s biggest threat in a wilderness area; by letting the lions come up to the fence Jasmin will be afforded the opportunity to identify them as a threat in her new environment, allowing her to respond accordingly once she is released into the reserve.

Daily monitoring is currently being undertaken by the Kuzuko conservation team, and Jasmin has been fitted with a tracking collar to enable them to keep a close eye on her once she is released into the larger enclosure.

“Like Jasmin, further captive-born cheetahs will be released into the protected wild of select Private Game Reserves in South Africa, through Ashia’s Release Programme. Several potential game reserves have already been identified and visited and are in the process of applying for the necessary permits,” concluded Illenberger.

Presenting an overview of cheetah populations in South Africa, Vincent van der Merwe, the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Metapopulation Co-ordinator – Carnivore Conservation Project, said that the country currently has a metapopulation of just 351 cheetahs situated in 54 small fenced reserves and that 1 000 cheetahs are needed for a genetically viable population.

“Of these, about 60% are adults and there are almost twice as many males to females, so it is absolutely necessary to move individuals between reserves in order to maintain the genetic and demographic integrity of the metapopulation,” said van der Merwe.

A metapopulation is a group consisting of the same species but separated by space. Ideally, these spatially separated populations should interact as individual members move from one population to another.

“There are about 67 captive facilities in South Africa that house approximately 600 cheetahs. Of these, most claim to be releasing them back into the wild, but, in reality, only Ashia/Cheetah Experience and DeWildt are actually doing so,” van der Merwe said.

One of the roles of the EWT Metapopulation project is to provide management advice to reserves who want to reintroduce cheetahs. Through the establishment of management clusters, the project hopes to develop networks of expertise, to facilitate communication and information sharing.

“Our aim is to reverse the ‘Cheetah Sink’ from captive populations to fenced metapopulations, and finally to free-roaming metapopulations. Currently, there is a demand for 32 females and 33 males, bringing the total to 65 cheetahs required for 25 new and existing reserves.

“We need new genetics and the time has come for the captive cheetah community to play their part. The reality is that captive cheetah facilities have no conservation value unless they are contributing to the conservation of wild cheetah. It is for this reason that I applaud Ashia/Cheetah Experience on the release of their first captive-born cheetah into the protected wild of Kuzuko Lodge reserve,” van der Merwe concluded.

Close up black and white photo of two cheetah faces, showing their black tear marks.

August 27, 2018

Would Ashia, which only opened officially at the end of last year, be up to close scrutiny?…

Despite being classified as a CITES Appendix I endangered species, cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) numbers have dropped from about 100,000 in 1900 to probably 6,800 today. Of these, only about 2,000 live in protected areas.
Is there a need for captive cheetah breeding programmes, and if so, how do these programmes contribute to species conservation?
To find answers to this question, I met with Chantal Rischard, co-founder of Cheetah Experience Ashia for a guided tour of this recently established wildlife sanctuary located in Paarl, a 45-minute drive from Cape Town.
Here’s what I discovered.

I arrived at Ashia on a cold and wet August morning with some trepidation. As an avid supporter of the Campaign against Canned Hunting and Fair Trade Tourism’s Wildlife Petting Policy, I know that many animal welfare lobbyists are trying to have the captive wildlife industry shut down.
Would Ashia, which only opened officially at the end of last year, be up to close scrutiny? Or is this just another addition to South Africa’s 80-odd captive wildlife breeding facilities who trade under the guise of cheetah conservation? I was soon to find out.

To say that Ashia’s facilities are above par would be an understatement. I was met in the expansive, and tastefully decorated reception hall, which doubles as a Boutique Shop and Café, by Ashia’s Marketing Assistant, Kirsty Pienaar and Chantal — both wearing water-proof hiking boots (as was I, fortunately).

As we proceeded with our muddy tour across the cheetah sanctuary and working farm (they grow wine grapes and olives, both of which are distilled locally and available under the Ashia label), I gleaned a lot of voluntary information and probed a lot of questions.
Here’s a summary of our discussion in no particular order (DL = Des Langkilde, CR = Chantal Rischard):
DL: Why? What compelled you to retire from corporate life in Germany to get involved with wildlife conservation in South Africa?

Riana van Nieuwenhuizen, founder of Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein.
CR: My husband Stephan and I both have a passion for photography and an equal enthusiasm for big cats, especially the cheetah, and so we travelled frequently to Eastern and Southern Africa on photographic safaris and fell in love with Africa’s wildlife. In 2015 we decided to make Cape Town our home as a base for further exploration where our dream of becoming personally involved in animal conservation was revived. We then met Riana van Nieuwenhuizen, the founder of our partner project Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, and decided to combine our dream with ‘The Cheetah Lady’ — and to fully finance the purchase of this farm and the establishment of Cheetah Experience Ashia.
Note: Read more about Riana and Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein here.

Chanttal Rischard & Stephan Illenberger, co-founders of Cheetah Experience Ashia.
DL: Why Ashia? Is there some significance to the name?
CR: It’s a uniquely African name, usually given to baby girls, and it means ‘hope’, or in our case ’life and hope’, which I think sums up what we aim to achieve with our cheetah conservation efforts here.

DL: Why cheetah conservation in particular?
CR: Cheetah numbers have dropped from about 100,000 in 1900 to probably 6,800 today, and of these, only about 2,000 live in protected areas. So, as the cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat there is a need for ethical breeding programmes to ensure genetic diversity and its long-term survival. The World Wildlife Fund says that cheetah now only cover about 23% of their historic range in Africa, and the species loss today is about 10,000 times higher than their natural death rate. This is mostly because of human/animal conflict in rural settlements and on commercial farms where cheetah are seen as a threat to their livestock. Cheetah, of course, are not to blame, so a lot more education about the cheetah is needed.
DL: So how does Ashia contribute to species preservation?
CR: Our aim is to help prevent the further decline of cheetah populations and increase the genetic gene pool through captive breeding programmes. These cheetahs will then be released into the wild through protected wildlife reserves by offering support to other ethical and sustainable conservation initiatives. Our second aim is to educate the public, especially the youth, about the plight of the cheetah.

DL: Where do you source your cheetah from?
CR: As far as possible, we buy cheetahs from our partner project in Bloemfontein, a registered Cheetah Breeding Project with advanced knowledge about cheetah’s health, fertility and genetics. We also buy from 2–3 other ethical and trustworthy breeders in South Africa. We also bought, or should I say rescued, cubs and adult cheetahs that were meant to be sold off to petting projects, the hunting fraternity or the middle east. To date, Stephan and I have used our own money to finance these purchases and the release programme. And when they, or their offspring, are released we will donate them to private game reserves that are part of the Cheetah Meta-Population project in South Africa. The 340 cheetahs that are currently living in 53 protected areas leave the meta-population well short of a genetically viable population as a minimum of 1,000 animals is vital to maintain genetic and demographic integrity.

DL: That certainly is a philanthropic gesture, but looking at all of the construction work and new enclosures being built here, not to mention the staff, feeding, and veterinary costs, how do you plan to sustain the financial burden and ensure the long-term viability of Ashia?
CR: Well, it certainly has been a large financial outlay and obviously there is a limit to our own financial resources, especially as we have a second project in Panama focussing on endangered turtles and rainforest wildlife, but that’s where our second aim for Ashia kicks-in. We offer opportunities for youth to learn about cheetah conservation through volunteer programmes, working holidays, and university research/internship programmes. We also offer two farm and animal tours per day with a maximum of 10 visitors per tour to participate in experiences, with the aim being to learn how to bring this precious species back from the brink of extinction. Guests can also watch our weekly runs from a secure fenced middle section in our running enclosure or accompany our staff taking some of the cheetahs on their enrichment walks. Through these educational experiences, visitors get to understand the urgent need for action and the critical need to protect these majestic animals. Then, along with revenue from our gallery, café and the self-catering suites, this money is ploughed back into the sanctuary to cover the daily running costs. Ashia is a not-for-profit organisation and all surplus is used to assist the funding of the Cheetah Release Programme, managed and financed by our registered non-profit organisation which gladly accept donations and corporate sponsorships.

DL: Fair Trade Tourism has a wildlife petting policy that does not allow for any physical contact with a cheetah by tourists or volunteers. Are you aware of their recently published Captive Wildlife Guidelines?
CR: To answer the first part of your question, our aim was never to finance a “petting zoo” but a long-term project that links education, conservation and human welfare. Visitors come to look and to learn — to experience — not to cuddle with cheetahs. Trained staff can take a few visitors per day to take photos without fences as some of our cheetahs are very comfortable around people. The cheetah relax on their mounds, and may come to greet you and walk off again to the high grass as they will never be kept on a leash or lured close-up with food. Then, as you saw earlier, the specially fitted room where cheetah cubs earmarked for release are getting a health and weight check has a glass viewing wall through which visitors can look and learn — only specially trained carers make contact with the cubs and follow strictly controlled procedures. Regarding the second part of your question, we have started the certification process with FTT and Stephan spoke with Jane Edge, the CEO of Fair Trade Tourism. We will see what the outcome is once all compliance checks and balances have been done.

DL: Earlier, you mentioned the meta-population. I read a 2012 EWT report about the cheetah trade in South Africa. According to this report, there is a need for a central database that contains information relating to captive cheetahs. How does Ashia react to this?
CR: I am aware of the report that you are referring to. It recommends that genetic records, as well as details on age, sex, history, and identification photographs of all cheetahs in captivity, should be kept in a central database. The report also recommends that these documents accompany each cheetah for its lifespan — much like a passport. A similar tool exists already with Studbooks where the pedigree and demographic history are registered and maintained.
Unfortunately, there is still no legal obligation for animal owners to register, which leaves the door wide open for unethical breeders and traders.
All our animals are registered both with the National and the International Studbook. (Reference: Record keeping by Cheetah Conservation Fund / Dr. Laurie Marker, Otjiwarongo, Namibia https://cheetah.org/research/by-type/international-studbooks/).
DL: Getting back to the feeding issue, how do you control the cheetahs’ diet?
CR: This is not easy. We have to be very careful about the quality of meat. Livestock meat has to be free of growth hormones and other chemicals that farmers use to control diseases. Occasionally we get game carcasses donated but we have to check if the antelope had been shot, and if so, what kind of bullet was used, as lead poisoning is a very real threat. Cheetahs are very susceptible to disease, so the handling of food hygiene is closely monitored. To avoid germ contamination, we have disinfectant treated water troughs at the entrance to all enclosures through which guests and staff have to walk to sterilise their shoes.

DL: Finally, how do you react to growing pressure from wildlife activists and lobby groups who claim that captive breeding does not contribute to species conservation.
CR: As foreigners, Stephen and I were probably the most vocal activists. It wasn’t until we made Africa our home, learned about cheetah conservation, and got personally involved, that we saw the real problems first hand. And that’s what Cheetah Experience Ashia is all about — a facility where lobbyists and wildlife activists can come to learn and get involved. There’s still a lot that we don’t know about captive wildlife breeding and release programmes, and we will soon be hosting a university graduate from the USA to complete her master thesis on this subject. I’m also very pleased to say that our first cheetah release permit has finally been issued by the conservation authorities. The release will take place end of August in cooperation with Kuzuko, a contractual area of Addo Elephant National Park.
Update: Ashia’s first captive-born cheetah release — a four-year-old female named Jasmin — arrived at her new home on Wednesday 29 August following a smooth and uneventful seven-hour drive from Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein. Read the full story here.

During our walk, Kirsty and Chantal let me inspect the guest accommodation which had been upgraded during their 6 months of closure for renovations and expansion.

There are four luxurious and spacious self-catering suites (3 x one-bedroom and 1 x two-bedroom) and each has been tastefully decorated in a different theme, with Chantal’s brilliant photographic prints of wildlife adorning the walls. No expense has been spared in kitting out each suites’ equipment and amenities. There’s Ashia labelled, home farmed, and locally produced wine and olive oil in each suite and a conscious effort is being made to avoid using plastic, such as water bottles.

Included in every guest stay are daily continental breakfasts and free access to explore the farm on an educational walk along enclosures and information boards about the species — for safety reasons, this excludes access to any animal camps.

Even the old farmhouse, where the admin offices, staff rooms, and the cheetah cub room are located, has been upgraded. The kitchen, in particular, has been retrofitted with 5-star catering equipment (to cater for daytime corporate functions, I’m told) while the communal lounge and verandah looks more like a luxury African safari lodge.
Following extensive upgrades to the property, Cheetah Experience Ashia officially launched its reopening on 07 September 2018, when they announced the release of their first captive-born cheetah into the protected wild at Kuzuko Lodge, a private game reserve in the greater Addo area of the Eastern Cape, managed by the Legacy Hotels & Resorts Group. This story can be read here.
In conclusion, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then Ashia is certainly the place for visitors to experience the beauty of Africa’s most endangered big cat — the graceful cheetah.
Protect, Preserve, Educate — these 3 words pretty much encapsulate what Ashia is all about.
For more information visit www.ashia.co.za or email enquiries

Ashia has been open for only a few months.  The sanctuary is on a small working farm (which has brand new accommodation suites) and continues the conservation and environmental education programmes… Read more

VIEW FULL ARTICLE

Founded to help to prevent the further decline of the cheetah population, Ashia’s goal is to support other ethical and sustainable conservation initiatives, particularly programmes aimed at re-introducing cheetahs into the protected wild…. Read more