Insure your car, home and valuables with iWYZE
Ten of the fastest land mammals on earth have returned to a once-natural vlei on the shores of False Bay.
The predators last roamed the flat lands between Table Mountain and the mountains to the east around 300 years ago. Until recently, this group of cheetahs called Spier Wine Estate home, part of their Cheetah Outreach Project.
But they now have a new home between the foot of the Helderberg, the roaring surf at the Strand and the protected beachfront stretching towards Macassar.
Project founder Annie Beckhelling said that with Spier’s renewed focus on its wine heritage, and Cheetah Outreach’s own ongoing development plans, the fleet-footed carnivores needed a new home.
That home was found on the shores of Paardevlei within a massive parcel of land known for more than a century as the AECI site, originally home of the explosives company founded by Cecil John Rhodes, and now owned under the corporate banner managed by Heartland, subsidiary of AECI Ltd.
All 10 cheetahs were born in captivity and hand-reared at Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) registered breeding centres in SA and can be visited by the public to help create awareness of the plight of their siblings in the wild. At the turn of the century, an estimated 100 000 cheetahs lived in 44 countries across Africa and Asia. Today, there are just 7 500 cheetahs left, according to the most recent census in 2008.
The Heartland site has been under rehabilitation for the past decade. This has included making the site safe and healthy – transformed from its original state after decades of industrial production.
Future development will allow for 1.8 million square metres of development across all sectors; this includes 3 000 residential units.
According to Anthony Diepenbroek, CEO of Heartland, Cheetah Outreach will add significant value to the development.
“A sustainable recreation area is one of the core elements at Paardevlei,” he says. “The cheetahs will be located on the edge of the vlei. Future plans for this area include a walkway around the rehabilitated perennial water-body and bird hides, so the project fits in well with our vision.” Heartland invested R35 million into the restoration of the Paardevlei in order to retain it as a feature in the future development.
Beckhelling explained: “While we are sad to leave Spier and have enjoyed a long and happy relationship there, our new home at Paardevlei offers us exciting prospects.
“Across the road from the Somerset Mall, the new venue is still accessible for the thousands of people who visit us. The move marks a new chapter in the story of Cheetah Outreach and we’re excited about this next phase of our journey.”