The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre – De Wildt (Originally the De Wildt Cheetah Research Centre) was the first establishment in the world to breed captive cheetahs on a sustainable basis and was the firstCites approved cheetah breeding facility in the world.
The aim of the Centre is to maintain a viable genetic pool of not only the cheetah but also the African wild dog (second most endangered carnivore in Africa), for release back into their natural habitat as and when space becomes available.
Since its establishment in 1971, over six hundred cheetah cubs and more than five hundred wild dog pups have been born at the centre, and it is here that the mystery of the King Cheetah was solved with the birth of the first King Cheetah in captivity.
Over the years various other endangered species have been bred at the Centre and these include African wild cat, Suni, Blue and Red Duiker, Riverine Rabbit, Vultures including the very rare Egyptian Vulture. The small antelope and Riverine Rabbit projects were handed over to other institutions once successfully underway.
At present, the Centre provides a home to 78 cheetahs and 21 Wild Dogs. It also provides safe haven for animals that have been illegally kept and confiscated.
It was the first facility to successfully reintroduce captive-born African wild dogs into their natural habitat and also created a man-made wild dog den, which enabled us to acquire the first film footage of the birth of African wild dog puppies and their initial three weeks in the den before appearing above ground.
More than Eighty research publications have been written and undertaken through the facility and this research contributes to the well-being and survival of the species.
Through their Wild Cheetah Management Programme, the facility successfully captured over sixty cheetahs that were considered “problem animals’ and relocated them into protected areas. As a result of this project and the introduction of the “Cheetah Friendly” farmer boards, two hundred and forty thousand hectares of farmland have been converted into areas that demonstrate that the cheetah and farmer can live together.
The Outreach Education Programme has reached an excess of 100 000 learners since its inception in 2003 and has impacted on the hearts and minds of many young people who have chosen nature conservation as a career.
Over the past two years, The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre has been instrumental in assisting the government with the drafting of policies for free-roaming cheetah management in South Africa.
The Centre is a non-profit organization and receives no government funding. Income is generated through tours, an adoption programme, donations and sponsorship.
The idea of a cheetah project is conceptualized when Ann van Dyk hand-raises two orphaned cheetah cubs.
The De Wildt Cheetah Research Centre is established on April 16 with the arrival of nine cheetahs.
To international acclaim, the first twenty-three cubs, from 6 females are born at De Wildt.
The first captive King Cheetah is born, defying science by proving that the King Cheetah is the result of a recessive gene and not a different kind of species.
The Riverine Rabbit Breeding Project commences.
Largely due to the Centre’s success, the cheetah is removed from the endangered list of the South African Red Data Book – Terrestrial Mammals. It is highly likely that this magnificent animal will soon return to the Red Data Book.
The De Wildt Cheetah Centre is all but destroyed by a hailstorm.
Ann van Dyk receives The Gold Medal from the South African Nature Foundation.
The De Wildt Cheetah Centre is devastated by a veld fire.
De Wildt successfully release captive born Wild Dogs to the Madikwe Reserve in the North-West Province.
De Wildt spearheads The National Cheetah Management Forum and the protection of free-roaming cheetah.
Fourteen thousand five hundred adults attend De Wildt’s 3-hour educational tour during the course of the year.
Five thousand two hundred children experience De Wildt’s educational tour during the year.
Ann van Dyk receives the gold medal from the Wildlife and Environment Society.
Two male cheetahs (one wild caught and one captive born) bonded and released onto Jubatus Cheetah Reserve.
Forty cheetah cubs born at the centre, including three Kings Cheetahs.
In November, Ann van Dyk was awarded the Chancellors Award from the University of Pretoria.
The Outreach Education Programme using De Wildts’ first ambassador Byron, is launched at Kaugelo Middle School in Ga Rankuwa.
Release of captive born cheetahs (2 males and 1 female) on Makulu Makete Wildlife Reserve.
The facility is renamed ‘The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre’.
One Hundred and five Thousand people, mostly children have experienced the outreach education programme since its inception in 2003.
Three female cheetahs released into Madikwe Game Reserve
Two female cheetahs released into Lapalala Game Reserve.