Cheetahs, wild dogs and more
So it was time for us to go and check up on Malaika, the wild dog our family had adopted five years ago from the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre near Hartbeespoort Dam, just over an hour’s drive from Johannesburg.
I first interviewed Ann van Dyk, who started the centre over 30 years ago, not long after she created this place of sanctuary, a centre for cheetah research on her farm in the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountains.
They purred very loudly during the whole interview and I felt very calm and safe…
It was a bright sunny day, and the cameraman, Ann and I were put alone into a large boma (an enclosed area of natural bush) to film my TV interview. I sat on a log while the two resident cheetahs sat posed beside me, looking for all the world like the cheetahs you see in Egyptian tomb paintings.
They purred very loudly during the whole interview and I felt very calm and safe.
Only when we had finished filming and left the boma did one of the rangers show me the deep scars on his arms – the result of getting up too close and personal with one of the world’s most endangered cats.
The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre is now world famous and has successfully bred hundreds of cheetahs that have been relocated all over the world.
But it also breeds the highly endangered wild dog, and has an adoption programme where, for a small fee, you can ‘adopt’ an animal and follow its progress.
‘Our’ Malaika is getting a bit long in the tooth now, but has successfully raised several litters of pups, and it was good to see her well and happy.
The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre is a wonderful place to visit – put it on your to-do list when next you’re in Gauteng.