Cheetah Experience Ashia, a world-class cheetah sanctuary and working farm outside Paarl in South Africa’s Western Cape, has opened its doors.
Ashia, an African name meaning “life and hope”, lies nestled at the foot of the dramatic Drakenstein mountains near Paarl, providing the perfect setting for the sanctuary’s conservation and environmental education programmes. A true passion project, the cheetah conservation programme forms the heart of this beautiful place, offering a facility for hand-raised ambassador cheetahs and a safe sanctuary for retired animals or those that need special care.
Founded to help to prevent the further decline of the cheetah population, Cheetah Experience Ashia’s goal is to support other ethical and sustainable conservation initiatives, particularly programmes aimed at re-introducing cheetahs into the protected wild.
Cheetah Experience Ashia was founded in 2016 by co-founders and directors, husband and wife team Chantal Rischard and Stephan Illenberger, and Riana van Nieuwenhuizen, founder of Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, a registered non-profit, endangered species sanctuary and ethical breeding centre in South Africa’s Free State province.
Encouraged by the success and public response towards her project in Bloemfontein, Riana realised her dream of procuring a safe haven near Cape Town. This would become a home for retired and hand raised ambassador cheetahs and other wild cats.
Both projects strive to raise awareness of not only cheetahs, but other endangered animals through educational experiences.
As the cheetah has become Africa’s most endangered big cat (from 100 000 in 1900 to only probably 6 800 today, of which only 2 000 are in protected areas), ethical breeding in captivity is essential to ensure its long-term survival and viable genetic diversity. The world’s fastest land animal is sprinting toward extinction, now covering only 23% of their historic range in Africa. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the loss of wildlife species today is estimated to be up to 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.
Cheetah Experience Ashia offers the opportunity to aid in cheetah conservation through volunteer programmes, working holidays and research/ internship programmes. Groups of a maximum of 10 visitors per day will also be able to participate in experiences, with the aim being to learn how to bring this precious species back from the brink of extinction.
Through these educational experiences visitors get to understand the urgent need for action and the critical need to protect these majestic animals.
Luxurious guest accommodation opened in January 2018, where visitors not participating in volunteering activities can opt to experience farm life first-hand at a more leisurely pace. Four spacious suites (3 x one-bedroom and 1 x two-bedroom) offer sumptuous comfort in relaxed surroundings, each en-suite with a fully equipped kitchenette. Guests can refresh and eat at the Café with its sweeping views over the Drakenstein mountains, browse through the extensive selection of high end gifts and memorabilia in the Boutique Shop, or explore the beauty and diversity of the farm on foot.
Included in every stay is daily continental breakfast and access to explore the farm, however, for safety reasons this excludes access to any animal enclosures.
It is notable to mention that Cheetah Experience Ashia is a not-for-profit undertaking. All profits raised from their operations are used to fund and support wildlife conservation projects.
Cheetah Experience Ashia is currently also sponsoring a young South African to complete his Veterinary Wildlife Studies at the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the Onderstepoort campus of the University of Pretoria, with the intention of a placement at the sanctuary upon completion.
MORE ABOUT CHEETAH EXPERIENCE ASHIA:
A mere 45-minute drive from Cape Town, Cheetah Experience Ashia is surrounded by award winning wineries and orchards. Grapes, guavas, olives, and a smaller crop of home-grown produce are cultivated here. In addition to cheetah, leopard, caracal and serval will also be found by mid of 2018 on this beautiful 35 hectare working agricultural farm.
Cheetah Experience Ashia is a not-for-profit undertaking. As grateful as it is to all its supporters, Cheetah Experience Ashia does not rely solely on donations, grants or fundraising schemes but continuously seeks new business models and ideas to raise needed funds in a sustainable manner.