In 1994 three cheetahs were brought into the care of Ida Nel of Emdoneni Lodge, their names were Nandi, Jabu and Tau; shortly after an injured Serval was received. People began to realise that injured or orphaned cat species could be brought to Emdoneni – a place that provided love and care for these animals – and out of this the Emdoneni Cheetah Project was born.
Currently, cheetahs are listed as endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Because of this, the main purpose of the project is to facilitate environmental education and conservation of cheetahs.
Sprinting at speeds of 100km/ hour, the cheetah is the fastest animal on earth and is recognised by its black spots, long-legged slender body, small head and black tear marks, which help reflect the glare of the sun especially during a hunt. Due to its vulnerable status the cheetah is only found in various countries in Africa and their habitat is determined by the availability of prey and the lack of predators. Their social system is made up of solitary females and social males (exclusive to this cat species) and it’s the females who raise the cubs and teach them survival skills. Cheetah cubs often fall prey to other predators such as lions, leopards, hyenas and Birds of Prey further impacting the vulnerability of this species.
The Emdoneni Cheetah Project provides guided tours that offer in-depth knowledge of this endangered wild cat species. You will also meet the African Wildcat, Serval and Caracal (lynx).
The project works closely with KZN Parks Board Wildlife Services who assist in releasing off-spring back into the wild.