I’m still in the Caucasus, and articles will be coming up when I’m back, or possibly before (Internet cafes depending). Meanwhile, I thought I’d tell you about this worthwhile animal rescue project in South Africa.
On an impromptu visit in Cape Town earlier this year, to meet my childhood friend Ingrid, we had time for much more than coffee. She had been there for weeks. Me, I had six days. Six days – with no jet lag… oceans of time.
‘How about a safari?’ suggests Ingrid as we lounge by the pool at the hostel. (Yes, you read that right: a hostel with a pool – Ashanti, in case you’re interested).
Despite having been in South Africa, must be five times now, I’ve yet to go on a safari. Mostly because I feel it would be a bit unfair to go without my daughters, animal-lovers to the extreme.
‘There’s a cheetah rehabilitation centre, just a couple of hours from here. We could go just for the day.’
So just a few hours, then. And rescue animals. I’m persuaded.
As the minibus takes us out of town the next morning, we have time to enjoy the stunning landscape surrounding Cape Town in the early hours of the morning. Then, inland along the scenic route, across Mount Wellington towards Ceres. We’re driving precariously close to the cliff, must admit I’m a bit apprehensive. I much prefer being behind the wheel myself. Ingrid doesn’t care, she’s sound asleep.
A good two hours after leaving Cape Town, we’re at Inverdoorn Game Reserve. The famous Big 5 are all present here – rhino, lion, buffalo, elephant and leopard – so called because these are the most difficult animals to hunt, and thus highly sought after by trophy hunters.
For three hours we track zebras, giraffes, ostrich, springbok, impalas and wildebeest, hippos, rhinos, elephants and lions. We’re in Klein Karoo, a semi-desert landscape: dry, dusty, barren at first appearance. But it’s not. Little Karoo is teeming with life.
Eugene is our guide. He is a walking encyclopedia of anything to do with the animals in the reserve. Only trouble is, Eugene is soft-spoken. Very soft-spoken. I make a point of staying close, so as not to miss any of his compelling stories.
Strictly adhering to the rule of keeping at least 50 metres away, we pass lions lazing in the noonday sun. The male is rescued from canned hunting. Know what that is? Lions are trapped in a small, enclosed space so it’s easy for trophy hunters to hunt and kill it. I think it’s despicable. And cowardly.
We meet herds of zebras and a few eager ostriches. We stop and say hello to two elephants, roaming about. The larger one was once a film star and the smaller was to follow suit. Cool? Not really. Elephants don’t dream of the silver screen. It entails living in much too small a space. Luckily, these two mates escaped that fate.
We hear about rhinos. They’re keeping to the brush today, just visible at a distance. These are rescue rhinos. The magnificent creatures look hardy, and in a way they are. They’ve survived for thousands and thousands of years. But they can’t withstand human cruelty. Horrendous numbers of rhinos are murdered every year, for their horn. Here’s what Inverdoorn has to say about it:
The fight against rhino-poaching must be fought on at least three levels. Firstly, on the ground: fighting and trying to find solutions to protect and save the rhinos. Secondly, in court: prosecuting poachers; and thirdly, in Asia, where the demand is concentrated, educating and dissuading people from using horn in traditional remedies.
At Inverdoorn, they use a RhinoProtect treatment. Simply put, poison is injected into the horns, a barium-laced, non-lethal dye. It’s harmless for the animals, but diarrhoea- and vomit-inducing for humans.
After driving for a while, we get out of the truck to go in search of giraffes – gentle and willowy beauties who let us wander amongst them.
Western Cape Cheetah Conservation
The primary reason we’ve chosen Inverdoorn for our mini-safari is the fastest land animal on earth. Cheetah rescue and rehabilitation is the speciality here. There are fourteen of them. Rescue cheetahs.
Like rhinos, cheetahs are in great danger. Currently, there are only 6 000 remaining in the world. So what’s the problem? Unsurprisingly, it’s me. And you. All of us two-legged creatures. You see, cheetahs need space. So do we. And since we have weapons, we win, forcing cheetahs to live in much smaller spaces than nature intended. That causes inbreeding. 25 % of cheetahs are born with genetic defects.
Another problem for cheetahs are the weapons themselves. Farmers shoot cheetahs as they believe they threaten farm animals. A third problem with us humans – the least palatable, in my opinion – is fashion. Fur fashion.
- A day visit to Inverdoorn costs 1190 rand (about EUR 90/ GBP 76/USD 120) and includes a yummy buffet lunch
- Inverdoorn is about 2 – 21/2 hours from Cape Town. They organise transport to and from Cape Town on demand, or you can drive yourself. We had our hostel organise everything for us – I imagine most hostels and hotels do.
- It’s possible to stay the night. In fact, that’s best, as you can join the early morning game drive and get even closer to the animals. Prices start at 1670 rand (about EUR 125/GBP 107/USD 168) incl bed&breakfast, dinner and a safari.
- There are often discounts in winter (May – September)
- More info at http://www.inverdoorn.com/
Disclosure? Nope, nothing sponsored here – neither at Inverdoorn nor in Cape Town.
I was surprised to read that you haven’t been on a safari although you’ve been in SA for 5 times. You have a valid reason too though. This sounds like a worthwhile project.
Yeah, I’m considering a change of policy, though. My youngest only wants to og where she can ride horses these days. Perhaps a riding safari…
Great article 🙂
I love this post. Your pictures are amazing. I’m itching to go back to South Africa. I actually have a friend in Cape Town so Inverdoorn looks like the perfect side trip. Whenever I hear about animals in South Africa, people are usually talking about Kreuger National Park, so thanks so much for highlighting Inverdoorn.
Thanks so much for your kind words. 🙂
I’m not sure that I could skip the safari because I’d left the kids behind but this seems like a great alternative. I had no idea that there were rescue reserves in South Africa – it is really appalling the damage that humans do in the name of sport, or fashion or whatever. Giraffes have long been my favourite animal and I Iove the photo you took of the pair at Inverdoorn.
Aren’t they gorgeous the giraffes…
Supporting a good cause while having a great day – sounds like a must-do:) Great post, beautiful pictures and an important message!
Thanks for that, Vera 🙂
What an experience! The animals look like they have the room, and sound (from your writing) like they have the care, to finish their lives in a happy healthy way. I love that animal rescue is becoming a world-wide cause.
Very important that it’s an issue where they live, and not just something we have opinions about in countries far away.
Absolutely incredible photographs! You got great shots of all the animals! That center looks like a great place to take a “safari”! It’s great to see people doing such incredible work to rescue and rehabilitate these animals. Thanks for sharing your great trip.
Thanks. I think it was a good introduction to wildlife rescue in Africa.
Canned hunting? That’s the height of cowardliness if you ask me. If someone’s bold enough to want to hunt these animals, I say they should face the animals instead of setting up artificial enclosures to make it easier for them to bag their catch. Sorry, this is just awful. Centers like these are so necessary. Glad you were able to go on the safari, Sophie. It’s such an incredibly humbling experience to see animals this way.
I feel exactly the same way, Marcia.
What a great safari alternative. Who needs the real thing if you can have photo ops like these.
Well, it was a safari really – only a very short one.
Wonderful, enlightening post. Ah, fur fashion — hard to believe (and sad) that it’s still an issue today. Nice to know that places like Inverdoorn are doing such good work in rescue and rehab. Love your pics of the beautiful animals.
Difficult to understand, isn’t it… Fur is no longer needed for the cold any longer either, there are so many alternatives.
I love seeing animals – you got so close to these!
I love it, too.
Animal rescue places are among my favorite places to visit wildlife. And it makes me very happy to read that these animals are well cared for, too. They’re lucky to have this place, particularly the cheetahs. Totally marking this place for a visit the next time I’m in the area.
Me too, Sherry. So glad to see people caring for animals throughout the world.
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