Wednesday, 18 July 2012

67 minutes at Dr. George Mukhari Hospital...

Today I spent my 67 minutes for Mandela day at Dr. George Mukhari Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa. I joined Lethlogonolo and learners from LG Holele High school at the hospital. We cleaned the offices and wards of the spinal unit, helped move and feed the patients. I am glad I was able to assist in a small way, as this is a place that is close to Lethlogonolo's heart. After his attack which left him wheelchair bound, he spent 6 months in this unit. 
Lethlo heads up the Tri-Rangers, a community project that works with about 930 learners in Ga-Rankuwa. CHEETA has a fantastic programme aimed at working with these learners called the Cheetah Challenge. 

The Cheetah Challenge hopes to achieve the following...
Our vision is to change the perceptions of young people about their futures and what is possible.
We will do this by challenging each young person to change their world, one new thought at a time.

We aim to provide critical thinking skills and opportunities to children and young adults - focused on various areas of their lives, so that they change their mindsets and perceptions about:
·         Their Futures
·         Opportunities for Economic Activity
·         Their Health and Wellness
·         Making a difference in the lives of Others
·         Making a difference to  their Environment and ultimately the Planet
·         Improving Relationships and choosing appropriate Role Models
·         Choosing behaviour that results in Positive Outcomes in their lives
·         Consciously working on their Strengths and constantly seeking out new Skills

This will be done through a series of Action Learning Modules, using the environment as a strong metaphor. These will be followed by practical skills that will be taught through voluntary work at the Cheetah Centre.  The programme also seeks to bridge the technology and language divide and will also provide access to a Media Centre, Digital Cameras, English reading books, Think Tanks, and many other exciting technologies and processes.

The programme is aimed at youngsters (aged 12 to 18) from underprivileged communities who have a passion for the planet and who have demonstrated a willingness to be involved in voluntary work. It is divided into several levels and those who take up the Cheetah Challenge will graduate from one level to the next, represented by recognition badges for each level attained. This means that we reach the children over an extended period of time, rather than just as a ‘once-off’ experience. Leadership experiences will be offered to those who show outstanding Leadership abilities. 

If you would like to support this initiative, please contact me on +27 12 504 9907

I hope you all had a wonderful Mandela Day

Happy Birthday Madiba!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Cheetah Super the ambassador cheetahs of The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre

The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre is home to many amazing cheetahs. In the breeding programme, we prefer to let the mothers raise the cubs, but there are some instances where some of the cubs have to be hand reared. Sometimes first time moms don't look after the cubs, and other times if the cubs have injuries we step in and hand-rear the cubs. When the cubs are hand-reared, the staff at our farm have the opportunity to work closely with these cheetahs, and we call these cats ambassadors. Just like humans, every cheetah looks totally different, and behaves very differently as well. I would like to introduce you to the current ambassador cheetahs we have at the moment, and tell you about their amazing, sometimes quirky personalities...

Byron looking gorgeous
Byron at a school

We would have to start off with Byron, since he is our first ambassador cheetah. He is an amazing cheetah that visits schools. This year he turned 10, and has seen thousands of learners. Byron is confident, and loves traveling, but he does not really want to take part in our run. The cheetah run is a great opportunity for enrichment for our cats. There is a lure course, and the lure (danger tape) is pulled at speeds of up to 75km/h. Byron normally watches the lure speeding away, and walks over to chat to the nearest lady cheetah. Since he is quite the ladies' cat and very handsome, Byron is part of our breeding programme. He loves going up to the ladies in "Lover's Lane", and has sired a number of beautiful cubs. At times when guests meet other ambassador cheetahs near Byron's camp, he shows obvious signs of being jealous, and recently even sprayed the auditorium windows while Yeats was busy meeting guests! Poor Yeats gets very distracted by Byron.

Graca at the run

Graca - a beautiful action shot
Shaka eating
Shaka is a beautiful king cheetah. His personality is completely different to that of Byron. Shaka is a gentle cat, and is not quite as brave as Byron. Shaka attempts to run, but is not the best athlete we have. Graca, Shaka's sister, is by far one of the best runners we have at the farm. Shaka and Graca turned 9 years old this year. Shaka is a very good ambassador for guests to interact with, but Graca only participates in the run, she is far to playful to do more.
A rare action shot of Shaka

The Beautiful Charlotte...

Charlotte is a beautiful young lady, and has been known to be very temperamental, but is a very well trained ambassador that can be used with small groups of adults. At the run, one is not guaranteed a good performance, but if she "feels like it", she does run very well.  This lovely cat turned 6 years old this year.
Baby Phantom
Yeats on a training session at a local school

Phantom on the house
Phantom, aka "Whisky" from the TV series "Cheetah Diaries" has a unique little face that suits her quirky personality. She had a problem with her eye, which her mommy tried to fix by licking it excessively. The little scar she has on her face does not detract from her cuteness :-) Phantom has an amazing "super purr", which is very high pitched. At 5 years old, she is a fabulous runner, and often plays in her camp with her ball.

Young Yeats

Big Girl is an 11 year old that is possibly one of the friendliest cheetahs we have on the farm, and never turns down a good cuddle. This veteran still enjoys the run, and is absolutely beautiful to see in action, as she is a  very large, majestic cheetah. She has the loudest purr of all our ambassador cats.

Lovely Big Girl
Yeats is a young ambassador that shows great potential. He is brave and adores traveling, making him a possible successor for Byron to visit schools. He turned 2 this year, and loves a stroll on the farm and a good cuddle. Yeats is also a very handsome youngster, who has grown into a large cat. He is very playful and on walks to meet guests for interactions, he loves "chatting" to all the other cheetahs on the farm.


 Roy is a gorgeous 4 year old male, who loves to cuddle. He has a very deep purr, and does interactions with guests.

Mitsi playing with her ball
Mitsi is a young lady who recently turned 1. She is an excellent runner, who has only joined the run line-up a few months ago, but already eagerly sprints for the visitors who come to the farm to watch the run. She is very friendly, and always greets Yeats as he walks past her.
Mitsi sticking her tongue out

Why not join us at the Ann van Dyk Cheetah centre to meet these celebs in person, or see them in action at the run. You can also invite us to your school or function to give an educational presentation about cheetahs or wild dogs, and meet one of our ambassadors too! Live too far for a visit? Why not skype one of our cats from their camp straight to your classroom. For educational enquiries contact me on or +27 12 504 9906

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Amazing Support from Sutherland High

There are many ways that the public can assist the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, as well as our education programme CHEETA. All the animals at the farm can be adopted, which means that members of the public contribute towards the animals' medical expenses and general upkeep. Schools and corporate institutions can also sponsor visits to underprivileged schools, enabling us to visit learners that have the greatest need for environmental education. When supporting our education programme, we are able to issue Tax Certificates and your company can also use its Social Economic Development to support us, since we are a registered Section 18A NPO.

This year Sutherland High School approached CHEETA to do fundraising for the education programme. Every year the ladies taking part in the Miss Sutherland High pageant do a fundraising drive as part of their responsibilities in the pageant. The lovely participants of Miss Sutherland High worked incredibly hard this year, and made a fantastic donation of R20 000! We are so proud of the ladies, and the hard work they have done. Our education department used these funds to purchase the education vehicle that has been sponsored by Ssangyong, and we are very grateful for Sutherland High School's assistance.

There are many ways that you can help the centre and the education programme, and if you feel you would like to assist, please contact Rita on +27 83 2528848 or

At the moment, there are many adorable animals at the farm, and they are just waiting to be adopted... have a look at our website for more information about our adoption programme