Due to the species’ dramatic decline, researchers are calling for the cheetah to be up-listed from ‘Vulnerable’ to ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Cheetah conservation programs need to urgently unite their efforts to reverse these declining numbers. The worldwide cheetah population has become a “population of populations” and the relatedness within these separated resident groups is becoming an issue.
Loss of habitat and decrease of prey
The ongoing growth of human populations and unsustainable consumer lifestyles
Conflict with farmers over livestock
Reduced ability to survive in protected areas due to bigger predators like a lion
Fragmented populations leading to inbreeding and number depletion
Illegal wildlife trade & poaching
Lack of involvement and education of local communities
The founders of Ashia, Chantal Rischard, and Stephan Illenberger established Ashia Sanctuary in 2016 as the base for their cheetah conservation and animal welfare initiatives, which include:
- Provide a safe home with spacious enclosures, professional veterinarian care an appropriate venison diet for animals with health problems as well as retired or injured cats that cannot be released into a protected wild.
- Raise captive-born cubs with their mother until they are old enough to enter the Wilding and Release Program. At the age of around 12-14 months they are translocated to one of the wilding areas on a game reserve to further grow up in a natural environment and get used to the sounds, smells and germs of the wild. Once old and strong enough to take on game they follow Ashia’s proven rewilding process. All cubs born and raised at Ashia are earmarked for release and no public is allowed to the maternity areas.
- Prepare captive born and mother-raised cheetah sourced from other ethical projects for a self-sustaining life in the wild. The pre-wilding includes a change of diet to only game meat, fasting days, fitness training on the lure system at the running field, DNA testing as well as detailed heath checks and vaccinations. Once fit enough these cats are translocated to wilding areas on one of the game reserves which partnered with Ashia’s Wilding and Release Program. During their rewilding process they are practising and honing their hunting skills until they are ready for their final release on a game reserve or national park.
- Finance advanced knowledge about cheetah’s health, fertility and genetics through scientifically based research studies.
- Provide local and international volunteers and guests with an unforgettable opportunity to actively or financially contribute to the conservation of this precious species, and promote the conservation of the cheetah in their own communities.
- Offer internships and research opportunities to students, and work together with universities and other conservation programs to better understand the plight that the cheetah faces, and work towards their long term survival.
- Link wildlife conservation and human welfare by raising awareness for South African wildlife by educating adolescents, especially those from underprivileged and marginalised communities in South Africa.
- Provide financial support for training adolescents, as well as scholarships for South African students, in the field of conservation and animal healthcare.
Ashia has a strict no-touch policy and children under 16 years are only allowed at the café & reception area.
Ashia is a not-for-profit organization and all surplus funds generated by the Sanctuary – including hospitality, shop, café, and farm operations – are solely used to fund the Cheetah Wilding and Release Program.