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*All distances listed are as the crow flies, and not actual travel distances.
For an opportunity to see the world’s fastest mammal, travel to the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre just off the N4 and on the border of the North West and Gauteng Provinces. The centre serves as an important contributor to conservation and the continued preservation of the cheetah. Thanks to the efforts of Ann van Dyk, her brother Godfrey, volunteer veterinarians and the Zoological Gardens, the cheetah is no longer on the endangered species list; this cheetah breeding facility has produced hundreds of cubs over the years that have been successfully shipped to game farms spread throughout the country, thus widening the gene pool. The centre was previously known as the De Wildt Cheetah Park and has been operating since 1971.
Apart from the cheetahs, the centre has now taken on the task of preserving the threatened African wild dog, brown hyena, duiker antelope and Egyptian vulture, amongst others.
One of the great achievements of the centre was to successfully breed King cheetah offspring in captivity. The spots of the King cheetah have melded into broad lines, making it markedly distinctive. These animals are the result of a recessive gene in both the male and female parents.
A highlight at the centre is to watch the cheetahs run at full speed as they chase a mechanical lure.
The centre launched an Outreach Education Programme many years ago to take an adult cheetah to remote communities with the aim of educating the public on conservation. Adults and children alike are thrilled to be in the presence of such a magnificent creature and to touch this placid cheetah ambassador gives people an appreciation of their place, and ours, in the scheme of nature.
The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre is a short distance from the picturesque Hartbeespoort Dam and within an hour’s drive of Johannesburg and Pretoria, and is open throughout the year.