As some of you may know my Sister Emily has given up years of her life, literally, to hand rear wild Cheetah cubs in RSA.The charity for which she does this sterling work is called Cheetah Outreach and has, post 2012 rearing season suffered a cataclysm. I will let Emily’s partner, James, take over here by sharing the email he sent me earlier this week and I ask that you my dear reader and friend do what you can to help either financially or in kind. At the very least please share this message with your own social networks in the hope that it reaches caring eyes and hearts.
About a year ago, Emily regaled us with tales of the Kalahari and many kindly supported our fundraiser for Cheetah Outreach (CO), the charity that Emily has done the cub-rearing for these many years, as seen on TV !! It did well, raising nigh on SAR 50,000 for CO and £650 for Wildlife Heritage Foundation for which we thank you. Although this letter is rather long I plead with you to read it through as it asks a question of you at the end, well, three.
This year, Emily and I were together on the cub-project and ten cubs came to Eikendal, in four litters of differing ages. It was, as ever, exhausting and sublime and we’ll send pictures in an email soon, so as not to get spammed on this one! When we left the cubs, but a few weeks ago, Yell, Coll and Broch were back in Pretoria at de Wildt, Zingula and Ailsa were up at the main facility like big girls, and the wee five were still at the cubhouse amongst the vineyards. Emily has since been in constant contact aiding their nurture, so has not really stopped – she lives and breathes with cheetahs in mind! And talking of cheetahs, I need your help.
There has been a grave disaster. Four nights ago, at dark late o’clock, after electrical storms and much deluge, a dam broke on the vineyard hill above the cub complex and the earth moved. Ton upon ton upon ton of mud slid through the Anatolian shepherd dog enclosures, taking all with it. A goat drowned, but miraculously the dogs survived; several were found along the motorway some miles away, so very luckily unhurt. The wee wooden cottages abutting the main ops centre of kitchen and cubroom were smacked by a wall of mud, trapping folks inside whilst the waters lapped through to the very cubroom door; towels, fleeces, sand-bags and volunteers saved the day. The cubs were emergency evac-ed to the main facility some twenty minutes drive away in the darkness and everyone retreated from the assault.
The whole cub complex is now under a metre of mud and all ops switched to the CO main building at Paardevlei. Cubs and volunteers are squashed into whatever rooms they have, like London in the Blitz though fewer bombs, making do with the little they saved, higgledy-piggledy but, as ever, primarily succouring the cubs. The pictures that Emily has sent through all these years of cubs running in the garden, cubs sleeping in the cub room, cubs playing on the porch are now but artefacts, antediluvian memories of space that is no longer there.
All are pluckily braving it well, staff, volunteers and cubs – but cataclysms have aftershocks. From the surviving comes the immediate coping and then the rebuild. I have little ability from here to aid, save to contact past supporters and plead for help to meet the inevitable strain on already overstretched finances and manpower. Charities are closely related, as cheetahs, and so when an ailment strikes such as the credit crunch or other biscuits, it weakens the whole and makes epidemic the danger of crisis. There is so much less to go around. A sudden event can make that fatal difference. This is a call to arms. And alms.
As Dawn Glover at CO puts it, “Although insurance will cover part of the disaster, they do not cover the very expensive clean up or the very expensive private kennels we currently have the dogs in while insurance agents, assessors and structural engineers get to grips with the disaster and decide how much damage has been done”.
If you are in South Africa, I do so hope that you get a chance to visit CO and the cheetahs. The main op at the facility will still be open 10-5pm 7 days a week on the R44. Only you will know what is going on behind closed doors! Meeting a cheetah will convert and inspire you and then I won’t need to ask you for any help you can give, be it your skills, your time or your address book! You will be proffering it. If you are not in South Africa, then I ask you to help as you can. Do you know folk there who might spread the word? Do you have a spare wine estate with a modern cub-rearing facility on it in the area that you’re not using? Can you spare a dime?
Donations are being gathered through justgiving.com on the same page we used last year ( http://www.justgiving.com/cheetahoutreach-whf ) and even better for CO through direct international transfer to them. Donations can be thought of as how much they cost, or how much help they give :
Cheetah Outreach direct donation :
Bank Details :
First National Bank
Adderly Street, Cape Town
Branch Code: 201409
Account Number: 62030813241
Account Name: CCF – Cheetah Outreach Trust
First National Bank, 82-84 Adderley Street , Cape Town 8000.
Swift number: FIRNZAJJ
Bank Tel: + 27 (0)21 487 6000
On line donations : justgiving.com/cheetahoutreach-whf
And PLEASE PLEASE Forward this email to folk who might care, or care to help