The inception of the renowned research and breeding reserve, De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust, was headed by the world-acclaimed conservationist, Ann Van Dyke in 1971. The aims of the reserve were to breed and preserve a then endangered species, the cheetah. Being the first of its kind, chances of success seemed far-reaching, especially since the initiative was a small, privately owned, and an independently funded non-profit organisation.
Despite its humble beginnings, some 500 cheetahs have since been raised and successfully resettled back into the wild.This proves to concerned conservationists that breeding in captivity does not necessarily lead to dire consequence for the animal, but re-adaptation to one's natural habitat is possible. Furthermore, De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust were solely responsible for bringing the cheetah back from the brink of extinction. This became officially recognised in 1986 when the cheetah was no longer listed as being critically endangered.
Being located in the foot of the Magaliesburg near the Hartbeespoort Dam, the 65-hectare reserve - with its sprawling terrain ensconced in the natural environment - is the ideal location to hand rear wild animals.
While initially a rehabilitation centre for the fast-moving mammal, De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust has grown exponentially and is now home to a variety of endangered species, including the wild dog, brown hyena, red duiker and ravine rabbits. It has also harboured new life, with the reserve having overseen the births of 600 cheetah cubs. The rare king cheetah, roams the undulating terrain. Despite being genetically identical to the common cheetah, it is a separate species of wild cat altogether.
The organisation does not stop at kerbing the extinction of cheetahs, but plans are underway to release captive-born wild dogs into various game reserves across South Africa.
Following a morning admiring the majestic cheetah and cooing at their cubs, tourists looking to be culturally enlightened can visit the nearby Lesedi Cultural Village. Here, you'll get to experience the daily lives of the locals. Furthermore, you'll be informed about the Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho and Ndebele cultures on a guided tour through the village.
Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling distance.