Most unique and specialised member of the cat family. The world’s fastest land animal. Reaches speeds of 70 miles per hour. Unlike other cats, the cheetah has a leaner body, longer legs and is referred to as the “greyhound” of cats. It is not an aggressive animal, preferring flight over fight.
Commonly found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their range includes
sparse sub-desert, steppe, medium and long-grass plains. They need bushes, tall grass and other large plants to hide from predators.
Though never numerous, cheetahs have become extinct in many areas, largely due to shrinking habitat, loss of prey, disease and a high rate of cub mortality.
Our Cats are like our children …
All the cats at Emdoneni Lodge with Cheetah Project near Hluhluwe, are dearly loved. Names for these cats have been chosen with love, like you will name your own child… each one has a different face and personality and not just another animal.
Many of these animals were taken in since 4 days old, spending many early hours feeding and caring for them. Others arrived that were raised as pets and became to wild to be a domestic cat, some were found homeless, but here at Emdoneni Lodge with Cheetah Project they have a home and are dearly loved.
Emdoneni Cheetah Project owner, Louis Nel says the cheetahs are ‘built for speed and not comfort’, and eat often, but very little at a time, which helps to keep them trim for high-speed hunting. In the wild, when not hunting, cheetahs work hard at conserving their energy. Their daily exercises consist of yoga-like stretching and slow walking, Nel says.
The cats’ pens at the centre are built according to conservationist Ian Player’s recommendations for wildlife management and are among the most spacious cheetah camps in South Africa. Rehabilitation and breeding centres like Nel’s might just save endangered cheetahs from extinction, as there are only 9 000 left in the wild in southern Africa. ‘We exchange cats to prevent interbreeding. That is why we got Shadow and Skye,’ says Nel.
‘Our aim is to create wildlife awareness in the community and local schools. The new arrivals are going to play a big part in that.’
New Home for Autumn
Exhilaration in motion best describes the reaction of Autumn the cheetah when she sped from her cage to explore her new home at the Emdoneni Cheetah Project in Hluhluwe.
Born in captivity in 2007, Autumn – originally called Elsie Jane – was raised by Lente Roode at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre and Emdoneni Cheetah Project bought her from them. She has successfully produced a litter of 3 cubs on an exchange program with Cheetah Experience. Storm, the last cub is now at the project.
The Emdoneni Cheetah Project started in 1997 with three cheetahs. Passionate about wild cats, Emdoneni Cheetah Project owners Louis & Cecilie and Louis Nel keep small numbers of Serval, Caracal, African Wild Cats and Cheetahs for education and breeding purposes. Surplus cats are released back into the wild. All the cats are fed a daily balanced diet with added supplements such as calcium and minerals. Feeding sessions are open to the public for viewing every day.