This month, ElderTreks president Gary Murtagh has been touring with our Kingdoms of South Africa group, and while there the group paid a visit to the De Wildt Cheetah Centre where he met Zorro. And it turns out Gary is a 'cat person', because he adopted Zorro on behalf of Eldertreks and the Kingdoms of South Africa tour he joined.
The De Wildt Centre, recently renamed the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre after its founder, has been a leader in the study and preservation of cheetahs since its establishment in 1971. Having successfully bred over 800 cubs in their sanctuary, the Centre is instrumental in helping maintain what are rapidly dwindling cheetah populations in South Africa. In fact, numbers are estimated at less than 1000, only half of which roam free in the wild.
Balancing wildlife preservation along with human needs is a challenge, to which there are no simple solutions, especially when it comes down to a choice between a farmer feeding his family or killing a wild cat. This is where the Centre's research and partnerships have already helped: De Wildt has partnered with another South African program that raises Anatolian shepherd dogs that are used to help farmers protect their livestock from cheetah attacks. Using these natural guard dogs to protect livestock has reduced losses to predators from between 95 and 100%. Which means there is no need for farmers to kill cheetahs in order to protect their livelihood.
© Jon Mountjoy
As a tour operator, we take our responsibility to sustainable travel seriously, and by adopting Zorro, these funds help contribute to the Centre's ongoing breeding and preservation initiatives, not only with cheetahs, but also other endangered species. It's one more way ElderTreks gives back.
For more information on the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, click here.