Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, Hoedspruit

The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) is living proof that people can make a difference to the long-term survival of the planet and its animal inhabitants.

HESC focuses on the conservation of rare, vulnerable and endangered animal species. Cheetah Conservation is one of its core disciplines.

The centre is actively involved in research; breeding of endangered animal species; the education of learners, students and the general public in conservation and conservation-related activities; tourism; the release and establishment of captive-bred cheetahs in the wild; the treatment and rehabilitation of wild animals in need (including poached rhinos); and anti-poaching initiatives on the reserve.

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Conservation of rare, vulnerable and threatened species

Since its establishment in 1990 as the Hoedspruit Cheetah Project, HESC has played an important role in the conservation of specific endangered species, particularly cheetahs and rhinos. We focus on the survival of endangered species through the breeding and maintenance of diverse bloodlines of cheetahs and the rehabilitation of rhinos that have become victims of poaching, and create awareness among the general public, locally and internationally, about the importance of wildlife conservation. We also provide research opportunities on the endangered species in our care.

We are proud of our association with conservation organisations. Since 2003 HESC has been registered in South Africa as a cheetah breeding centre by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

HESC participates in the cheetah metapopulation project that aims to sustain and increase the numbers and genetic diversity of Southern Africa’s free-ranging cheetah population. We provide new blood lines to limit inbreeding in small, free-ranging groups of cheetahs. It is estimated there are only about 7 000 cheetahs remaining in Africa of which 1 200 occur in South Africa, 300 to 450 as free-ranging in the wild, and the rest in reserves. But HESC is not only about facts and figures and science. With our passion and dedication for what we do, there are many tales about healing and love for the animals that we work with – unfortunately also cases of heartbreak when we lost beloved rhinos to poachers.

Come by and see for yourself why HESC has become a popular stop on the route of local and international tourists. On our guided tours in open safari vehicles, you’ll see endangered and other species such as the cheetah, white rhino, wild dog, sable antelope, southern ground hornbill, and various species of vultures at the vulture restaurant.


HESC maintains a strict policy of no contact or interaction with animals kept on the property. Our policy is aligned with international trends based on animal ethics and welfare and is aimed at ensuring the safety and health of both animals and visitors. Our policy further endorses the right of animals to live a life without fear, which is often the consequence of close contact with humans with whom they are not acquainted. We avoid human-imprinting, whereby the animals will identify more with humans than with their own species and cause them to become problem animals once released.


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Cheetah Cubs Born at HESC🐾🐾 — So beautiful and barely nine weeks old, the four cheetah cubs born to Shelly at @hesc_endangeredspeciescentre earlier this year still sport the thick coat of fur, or mantle, that is characteristic of young cubs. — The mantle is thought to provide camouflage and protection from predators in that it causes the cubs to resemble a honey badger – an aggressive little creature that is mostly avoided by predators because of its fierceness. The mantle is also thought to help regulate the cubs’ temperature against rain and the heat of the sun. — The mantle starts to disappear at around four and a half months, but traces may still be present at the age of two years. After four months, baby cheetahs have the tawny, spotted coats of an adult. By the time that a cheetah is around 15 months old, it will have reached its full adult size and will have the white tip on its tail. — Due to the high mortality rate of cheetah cubs in the wild, on average only about 20 percent survive to adulthood and between 50 and 70 percent die before the age of three months. At HESC cubs are spared this lot because they are not exposed to predators. — Baby cheetahs nurse for approximately three months, but this age does vary. If for some reason a mother cannot feed her cubs, we bottle-feed them, initially every three hours. — Over the years, Lente Roode herself has done this more times than she can remember, as have her curators and guides. Lente says new-born cubs are very like human babies and need just as much nurturing and love. he says it took trial and error to develop the correct milk formula and that we now also know to add supplements to ensure the cubs grow into strong and healthy adults. — We’ll keep you updated on the progress of our cubs. — Thank you to our Head Curator, @linrijvr for these lovely photos of Shelly and her cubs. — #hesc #southafrica #kapama #wildlifeconservation #conservation #limpopo #hoedspruit #thisissouthafrica #cheetah #hoedspruitendangeredspeciescentre #cheetahconservation #bigcat #bigcats #catsofinstagram #cats_of_instagram #cats_of_world #cat_features #catoftheday #catstagram #catlovers #bigcatsofinstagram #feline

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