Come and meet the world’s fastest land animals.
Did you know? The evolution of cheetahs can be traced back 4 million years. Cheetahs are an endangered species, with less than 1 000 in South Africa and less than 7 500 in the world. The Cheetah Outreach project was established at Spier Wine Estate in 1997, but has since moved to Somerset West. Its aim is to address the conflict between cheetahs and South African farmers. Cheetahs need to eat and often their meal of choice is livestock like sheep. This has resulted in farmers killing them to protect their commercial interests. The Cheetah Outreach breeds and trains Anatolian shepherd dogs, who have for centuries guarded flocks of sheep from predators such as cheetahs. Once trained, these dogs are given to farmers, ensuring that cheetahs find other sources of food and farmers can retain their livelihood.
The funding for the breeding and training of these dogs, comes from the people who visit the Cheetah Outreach. You can get up close to these magnificent cats and learn all sorts of interesting facts about them. At a small extra charge, you can even get photographs of yourself touching a cheetah or handling a fluffy cub. The tour guides at the facility are very passionate and knowledgeable - happy to answer any questions that visitors may have about cheetahs or Anatolian shepherds. While only the trainers are permitted to handle the temperamental dogs, visitors can see them to get an idea of their size and shape.
The Cheetah Outreach not only provides employment opportunities for locals, but also excellent opportunities for South African and international volunteers. So come and meet these speedy predators and help contribute to the survival of the specie. The cheetah has a slender, long-legged body with blunt, semi-retractable claws. Its coat is tan with about 2,000 small, round, black spots, and the fur is coarse and short. The cheetah has a small head with high-set eyes. Black "tear marks", which run from the corner of its eyes down the sides of the nose to its mouth, keep the sun out of its eyes and aid in hunting. The cheetah’s small streamlined head; long, light limbs; powerful hind legs; flexible shoulders and spine; long muscular tail; semi-retractable claws; enlarged liver and heart; and wide nostrils and increased lung capacity all combine to make it the fastest mammalian sprinter on earth. Covering up to 9 meters in a stride at almost 4 strides per second, the cheetah can reach a top speed of 100 km/h or more. For more than half of every stride, the cheetah is airborne. Meet the Cheetahs.
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