Women-to-Women: Spotlight on South Africa

Our South African adventure vacation in July 2017 features our favorite “W’s” – wine, wildlife and women! As we roll out our new initiative, inviting our guests at AdventureWomen to meet other women who are community leaders abroad, we’re delighted to be able to travel to the Cheetah Outreach program in Stellenbosch, South Africa founded by Annie Beckhelling. 

The Cheetah Outreach program was founded by Annie Beckhelling in 1997 in South Africa on a hectare of land provided by Spier Wine Estates. This pioneering initiative was launched to help educate the local community about the plight of the cheetah and the need to help preserve this unique animal’s natural habitat in Africa. Cheetah Outreach also rears cubs from the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre and raises them to be ambassadors for the species as well as partnering with other cheetah conservation organizations worldwide.

The cheetah cat, in fact, originated in Asia, traveling by land through Europe into Africa before the ice age and is one of the few big cats to have survived over the centuries. As of late 2016, the cheetah’s global population has fallen by 90% to approximately 7,100 individuals in the wild due to habitat loss, poaching, the illegal pet trade, and conflict with humans. A new study released by the Zoological Society of London, Panthera, and the Wildlife Conservation Society suggests that this vulnerable animal’s population may fall by an additional 53% over the next 15 years leading to the cheetah as a species, risking extinction. Cheetahs are already almost extinct in Asia, with fewer than 50 animals remaining in one area in Iran.

Cheetah Outreach continues to make strides in South Africa with the 2005 launch of a guard dog program to help protect livestock from cheetah and encourage wild cats to prey on natural sources of food. Anatolian Shepard puppies are trained as livestock guard dogs in South Africa’s cheetah range and the dogs, once bonded with their livestock herds, scare predators away. In exchange for livestock protection, South African farmers agree to stop lethal predator control.

Another influential woman tied to the fate of the cheetah is American conservationist Dr. Laurie Marker and her Cheetah Conservation Fund, based in Namibia who AdventureWomen visited on our Namibia trip in May 2015.

American conservationist Dr. Laurie Marker of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia

Annie and Laurie are two of the many amazing women in Southern Africa. Other women in South Africa are breaking barriers and launching startups aimed at increasing employment among women, promoting recycling, leveraging technology to help women, promoting literacy and standing up for the rights of disabled and other disenfranchised women. Read more about them here.

We hope you’ll join us on a “women-to-women” connection on our South Africa trip or any other. One of our passions at AdventureWomen is women’s empowerment. Will you join our cause?