South Africa, the land of the BIG 5 and fine wines, however also the home to cheetah and a wildly growing craft-beer industry.

Cheetahs are the fastest animals in the world, running at speeds up to 110 km/h (or 70 miles per hour!) and these top speeds can be reached within just 3 seconds! There are only about 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild, of which about 19 % live in South Africa. With the species slowly diminishing, The Cheetah Outreach in Somerset West was started to raise awareness of their plight and to campaign for their survival. Craft-beer, on the other hand, is a rapidly-growing species in South Africa with the number of breweries sitting at about 180-200 and the majority of breweries situated in the Western Cape (the province that Cape Town is part of.)

Yesterday, as the weekly activity, the interns and staff of VACorps took a short afternoon excursion outside of Cape Town, to Strand, situated on the other side of False Bay, to experience the cheetahs and craft-beer with all their senses.

After meeting at the Observatory Train Station at 1 pm for a quick briefing in the wet and windy Cape Town weather, everyone piled into the private shuttle bus arranged by VACorps. The nervous excitement at meeting the world’s fastest animal was evident through the laughter and chatter between the interns (or maybe there was just so much news to catch-up on from the awesome experiences they’d had at their internship sites?) Before each of them could finish sharing their experiences from the week, the 1-hour bus ride was over and we’d arrived at The Cheetah Outreach.

We were greeted by the friendly staff who gave us an audio-visual presentation on all the animals found at the facility. We were delighted to find out that the cheetahs are in no way drugged but rather put on an extensive and strict enrichment program. This program focuses on giving the cheetah’s a multi-sensory experience that mimics their natural, wild habitat as much as possible. Read more about this here. Although we were not able to witness it, we were also excited to hear that the cheetahs are given the opportunity to do long, fast training runs.

Taliah, a lovely volunteer from Zimbabwe provided the majority of us with a walking tour around the facility. We were surprised to find out that there are many other animals also at The Cheetah Outreach. They have dogs, black-backed jackal, serval, caracal, bat-eared foxes, meerkat and even tortoises. Each of the animals had a name. Our favourite story about the animals at the facility was about Romeo, a male cheetah, who is in love with one of the female Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, named Juliet.

Those who had decided to pet the cheetahs and their cubs went to the cheetah enclosures to not only see but hear and TOUCH the cheetahs. What an incredible experience to get so close to these playful, cuddly cats!

   

As the sun started to slowly move behind Table Mountain we decided to make our own move toward Triggerfish Brewing, a local craft brewery about 5 minutes from The Cheetah Outreach. We all shuffled into the bustling, character-filled brewery, ordered a beer and then took a seat in the cosy restaurant before tucking into the delicious, large yet super affordable big burgers, charcuterie-platters and Dutch Bitterballen that we ordered. Everyone, whether they were a “beer geek, beer snob or hop head” enjoyed at least one of the beers on offer. Those who were cold huddled next to the fireplace before taking photos with the #Triggerfish brewing photo frame.

Soon it was time for us to climb back into the bus and begin our quick journey back to Cape Town to enjoy not a normal two-day, but THREE day weekend. Why? Because the 24th of September is HERITAGE DAY in South Africa or as the locals call it- Braai Day.

This national holiday started in KwaZulu-Natal to honour King Shaka Zulu and was aptly called Shaka Day. However in recent years the name was changed to Heritage Day, and since this day comes about one month into spring, just as the temperatures are starting to warm up and the weather is favourable enough to spend time outside, many South Africans spend this day around a ‘braai’ (barbeque)– hence the nickname, BRAAI DAY. Read here and here how the interns have celebrated this day in previous years.

   

Wondering who King Shaka is and why the name of the holiday was changed? King Shaka was the king of the Zulu people (one of the indiginous African tribes.) He was a strong and brutal leader and with the backing of a mighty army, he conquered many of the surrounding chiefdoms in KwaZulu-Natal. At one point he had a well-trained army of around 40,000 soldiers. Anyone who disobeyed an order given by King Shaka was immediately killed and he would sometimes massacre a whole village in order to get a message across. When Shaka’s mother, Nandi died,  he was heartbroken and he forced his entire kingdom to mourn her. He issued an order that no new crops were to be planted and no milk be used for a year and he had all the pregnant women killed. He had around 7.000 people executed for not mourning enough for his mother. The Zulu people had had enough of Shaka’s cruelty and were ready to revolt. Shaka’s brothers realized that Shaka had gone crazy and they assassinated him in 1828 and buried him in an unmarked grave.

Enough about that though… CHEERS to the Heritage Day weekend that started off well with sprinting animals and tasty craft-beer! For more photos from our excursion visit our Facebook Page.

    In the chase between a cheetah and deer…many times the deer wins.

Because cheetah runs for food and deer runs for life.

Remember…PURPOSE is more important than NEED.

 

Beer facts source: http://brewmistress.co.za/statistics-for-the-south-african-craft-beer-industry/

Cheetah facts: http://www.cheetah.co.za/c_info.html

King Shaka facts: https://www.ducksters.com/history/africa/shaka_zulu.php