The start of April I found myself on the way to the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre near Bela Bela. It was my second visit to the centre and a wonderful experience as always. It was the first time I went on the tour that the centre offers and I learned much about cheetahs, vultures, wild dogs and other wild animals. Ann van Dyk officially opened the centre in 1971, which primarily focused on the rehabilitation of stray and injured cheetahs. The cheetahs are bred to live in captivity, which is a lot better than catching and caging a wild cheetah for display purposes. The centre also has a few crocodiles, dangerous hippos and a variety of birds.
In the evenings we braaied our steaks (medium-rare, naturally) and drank red wine. We listened utterly mesmerised to the chuckle of the fire and the relaxing sounds of the bushveld. There is a lion camp near De Wildt and in the evenings we could hear the rumbling lions in the distance. The cackling laughter of jackals also drifted through the darkness on various occasions and gave an eerie feel to the night.
I dusted off my DSLR camera and Sony video camera for this trip, and thoroughly enjoyed ‘documenting’ my experience at De Wildt. Nature photography will always be one of my most enjoyable hobbies and I am currently saving for a 500mm lens. I cannot wait to visit the Kruger National Park; I really would love snapping a leopard dragging its prey into a tree!
Ann van Dyk really does so much for wildlife conservation and the compassion that some people possess is sometimes astonishing. If only we had more people like Ann van Dyk in the corner of the defenseless rhino…