Did you know?
Ann van Dyk discovered that cheetah females like to choose their males - a breakthrough in captive breeding.
In the last few decades the De Wildt Cheetah Sanctuary near Pretoria has played a crucial role in the survival of the magnificent cheetah and it remains a crucial centre for breeding African animals that are on the brink of extinction. You can visit this wildlife enclave, now renamed the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, in the foothills of the Magaliesberg Mountains in the North West province.
The centre was opened in 1971 by founder Ann van Dyk who volunteered her parents' chicken farm when the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa ran out of space to continue their captive breeding programmes. It is now a world-renowned research centre and well worth a tour.
To its credit this cheetah sanctuary has managed to breed about 600 cheetahs since the inception of the programme, when the total wild population in South Africa was estimated at only 700.
The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre has also decisively proven that these captive bred cats can fend for themselves in the African bush. The landmark success came in 1986, when the cheetah was removed from the endangered species list of the South African Red Data Book for Terrestrial Mammals.
Besides cheetah rehabilitation, the centre has also successfully bred African wild dog, brown hyena and Cape vulture. Particular highlights include the breeding and release of captive-born, highly endangered African wild dogs into their natural habitat, the breeding of the ultra rare riverine rabbit for donation to the Karoo National Park and the breeding of Suni antelope for the Kruger National Park.
The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre is a non-profit institute. It is financed partially by sponsors and partially by donations and income from tourism. In 1988 Ann van Dyk received the gold medal award of the South African Nature Foundation for her work and she continues to run the centre as director.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre
Tel: +27 (0) 12 504 9906/7/8
Cell: +27 (0) 83 892 0515
How to get here
The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre is an hour's drive from Johannesburg and 45 minutes from Pretoria off the R513 about 15 minutes from Hartbeespoort Dam.
Best time to visit
De Wildt can be visited throughout the year.
Around the area
Just around the corner is Hartbeespoort Dam, a popular weekend destination for water sports.
What will it cost
Prices range from R270 for adults and R135 for children under 12 for the daily three-hour tours.To watch the cheetahs run and go on tour costs R380 per adult and R190 for children under 12. A family tour costs R180 for adults, R90 for children.
Next door to the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre is the Margaret Roberts Herbal Centre, well worth visiting for natural remedies and healthy meals.