conservation

Ethics Committee

Over the last 20 years, Aquila Private Game Reserve has won the most prestigious internationally acclaimed awards for its ethics – based on social upliftment, sustainable development and most importantly, conservation. Just days after taking ownership of Inverdoorn Private Game Reserve, Searl Derman made a bold industry announcement that a strict “no touch” policy was implemented at Inverdoorn Private Game Reserve.

Faced with the concern that the existing cheetah programme might be seen as unethical with possible animal welfare and brand implications, it was decided to embark on a mission to get industry and conservation partners together to establish an ethics committee to look into the programme, reconsider the mission statement, and overlook future cheetah conservation efforts to ensure and establish an honest and honourable global conservation project.

This independant committee was established on the 4th of September 2018, and consists of the following amicable persons:

  • Chris Mercer (Wildlife activist and founder of the Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH))
  • Toni Brockhoven (Chairperson of Beauty Without Cruelty; defending animal rights)
  • Richard Pierce (Wildlife documentary author and activist)

programme

Rehabilitation camps are set up in such a way to allow cheetahs that show interest in one another to interact in a more natural manner. This has subsequently led to 3 successful litters born here at Inverdoorn, a huge achievement for any reserve, as breeding in captivity is extremely difficult.

Stimuli such as view of prey, running and mating behaviours are crucial at the final stages when individuals are ready for release. Three months before their release, only full body diets are given, fast days are increased, and human contact restricted.

The programme includes one fast day per week. These days are important as they mimic the natural hunting behaviour of the cheetah. The areas are also positioned for optimal natural enrichment which include high vantage points, trees for shade, exercise and scratching, water holes and other items such as skins, bones and hooves.

The cheetahs get a varied diet, containing for example full feathered birds, red meat, game meat & rabbit. The diet and exercise of cheetahs are extremely important and it’s something we greatly prioritise for their well being.

cheetah experience

Since inception and up until the recent new ownership of Inverdoorn Private Game Reserve, the cheetah conservation programme monetized the cheetah experience. These activities included various forms of interaction and add-on sales to Big 5 safaris.

These add-on sale income streams have been removed from the Inverdoorn business model and will be replaced with activities that place the interest of the cheetah as priority.

The cheetah conservation programme – within its new format – will provide be an auxiliary service and project to Inverdoorn and present value-adds to guests on safari.

Staying true to its core focus to rehabilitate and release cheetahs into natural environments in order to prevent the species from extinction, these conservation focused guest activities could include:

  • Viewing of the cheetah runs from elevated zero impact position
  • Educational tour from a distance or from a game viewing vehicle
  • Rehabilitation centre tour
  • Research and tracking presentations
  • All activities will have NO touching or interaction

feedback

The initial committee inspection of the Inverdoorn Cheetah Conservation project confirmed 15 animals in captivity – cared for by experienced and dedicated handlers. The animals have excellent quality of life which ensure they remain in good condition.

As part of the rehabilitation process, a number of cheetah have to run for their supper by chasing a lure down a runway ay up to 120kmph. At the end point, they are rewarded with food. Guests only observe from a vantage point. The holding camps are spacious and clean and cheetahs are taken into the veld every morning where they are allowed to run free. The modern view and the ethics of animal welfare are still evolving and hence no touching will be allowed. 

Previously, guests were allowed to touch the animals during various times on their safari stay – but since the implementation of the policy update – all interaction has been stopped.

All future bookings have been informed of this change and guests will now have the opportunity to enjoy a conservation educational presentation. The project will strive for Fair Trade certification.

The committee concludes that the animals are content and well cared for – stating that cheetahs are most probably some of the luckiest captive cheetahs in South Africa – based on conditions, care, contentment and quality of life enhancement programs.