Such an exciting first day we had!! It was the most perfect way to start the trip, and I don’t think we could’ve asked for a better day. As everyone was arriving all day yesterday, they were absolute troopers, pushed through the jet lag and made the most of their tiredness.
(Pictures to come!)
We started with a quick breakfast where everyone tried to spend getting to know each other’s names and minimal backgrounds. Then we packed up and loaded the bus off and out of Durban. Then, after a couple hours of jamming to music and chatting the entire time, we finally arrived at the cheetah rehabilitation center.
This sanctuary is one that we have supported for a few years now, and is so great to see what progress they have made there with their rescue, breeding and rehabilitation of all kinds of African cats. We began small with the African wildcats, which look very similar to a domestic house cat. Even though it looks similar, it is definitely not the same. Unfortunately though, these cats are easily domesticated and have grown up in captivity.
We next moved onto a serval, which is bigger than a wildcat and very unique looking. It is a medium sized cat with large pointy ears and can jump over 3 times its height to kill its prey. It will even be able to kill large animals like impala, nyala and cattle. They are easy targets for farmers to shoot for killing their livestock, which is why they are becoming endangered.
After that was the big canhoona. The cheetahs!!! There are two beautiful cheetahs living here that were used for breeding purposes in the past but can’t reproduce anymore. Now, because they were raised in captivity, can’t be released back into the wild. They have lost all of their animal instincts, so unfortunately they wouldn’t survive if they were on their own. Now, they get a lot of human interaction, and love a few caresses around the ears, neck and head. Wow, their purring is loud too! We thought it was a car or something at first! They are sassy pampered kitties now.
Seeing them was absolutely incredible!! To top it all off, we got to see the young cheetahs next door too! Now, because those ones are young, they are far friendlier. They met us in the shade and adored our attention. They couldn’t get enough of our petting, but I’m not sure who loved it more, the cats or the volunteers. I can’t blame them though, how many people can say they’ve played with baby cheetahs?? Amazing!!!
That was definitely the most exciting part of the day, and we got to see so many African cats. We had a lunch while reminiscing about our experience and then we were off again. We drove only a couple more hours on a couple of rocky roads and we made it to Somkhanda Game Reserve. This will be our home for the next week. We are staying in tents in the middle of this beautiful reserve where we will be helping monitor rhinos and leopards, setting up camera traps, ridding the land of intrusive plant species and so much more!! It’s going to be an amazing week. It’s crazy how friendly this group is already too, I can tell that they’re going to incredibly close by the end of the two weeks.
Check you tomorrow!