Volunteers with Volunteer South Africa are shown how they can help conserve Africa's wildlife by teaching Cheetahs to hunt.
Volunteer South Africa offers a wildlife conservation project called Living With Cheetahs. This program presents volunteers from all over the world with the opportunity to come and help successfully teach cheetahs how to hunt before releasing them back into the wild.
Living With Cheetahs is a fascinating project based out of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa that has come to be the most successful cheetah breeding project in all of South Africa. With their main objective of raising cubs and training them on how to survive on their own in the wild, Volunteer South Africa has been able to release cheetahs into their natural habitat with full confidence that they will survive.
Throughout their stay at the 10,000-hectare reserve, volunteers are shown how they can help these cheetahs survive in the wild. Volunteers participate in various activities to help prepare the cheetahs for the wild, including a stimulation technique that encourages the cheetahs to chase after you.
"Since some of the cheetahs don't have their mothers to help them develop some of the necessary skills, one of the things we got to do as volunteers was help the staff train the cheetahs on how to hunt," Jon Watson, volunteer with Volunteer South Africa, said. "We even got to actually go out on a hunt with the cheetahs, which is probably one of the most amazing and surreal things I have ever done."
The volunteer crew and staff head out with the cheetahs to a location where they believe antelopes will be easy to find. The cheetahs are taken out of the vehicle and walked on harnesses until the staff believe they have reached a point where they can be released. The volunteers help demonstrate by crouching down and pointing towards antelopes. Once they cheetahs have spotted their prey, the harnesses are taken off and they set off on their hunt.
"Most people only get to see that on TV or if they're lucky will get to see it on a safari from 100 yards away but we were right there. Right next to the cheetahs as they were taking down the prey. We were right behind them entire time. I was at a loss for words," Watson said.
After about a year's worth of training, the cheetahs are ready to be put back into the wild.
But cheetahs aren't the only animal that volunteers get to interact with. Volunteer South Africa has a variety of different programs including Living With Big Cats, Living With Great White Sharks, Living With Endangered Wild Life, and more.
To learn more about how you can contribute to African wildlife, visit the Volunteer South Africa website.