Me getting wild in South Africa. Caressing Cheetah. Wow. You are not hearing kind of joke. This really happened.
I had read about predators’ sanctuaries in South Africa where visitors get an opportunity to see predators like lion and Cheetah at close quarters. I was more curious on Cheetah, the fastest animal on earth. Cheetah can accelerate over 100km within seconds, that may be faster than many super cars. I found out that interaction with cheetah was possible against a hefty fee. Whatever the charges, I did not care. I had to touch and caress cheetah. Not even bothered about the life risk involved. Finalized with a sanctuary named Predator World near Sun City.
My great buddy, Raj also joined me at the sanctuary. He was quite apprehensive on being up close to cheetah. But I was bent upon doing that. And Raj knew I won’t stop. I offered him a choice that he can remain at distance and watch me going close to cheetah. Though, he is not type of adventure seeking person like me. But after some thought he showed his willingness to come along for a face to face with cheetah. We underwent a training session. Caution of do’s and don’t were to be strictly adhered. How to caress cheetah and what body parts not to be touched. All to be followed religiously. A little slip and grabbed by cheetah. God…
The most awaited moment arrived. I was entering cheetah cage and my heart throbbing with excitement. Once inside cage, entrance gate, behind, was quickly closed. Now me and Raj in the company of elegant cheetah couple. Of course expert cheetah handler was there pampering cheetah . There was one caretaker too, inside the cage. I would say, that was not exactly a cage but a huge open area fenced with barbed wire. For few seconds even I got anxious. What if something went wrong? Nothing will go wrong. Some inner force within me promptly reacted to my anxiety.
While cheetah handler caressed the cheetah couple, I noticed they liked his touch and loved him. Gradually, cheetah couple was introduced to us. Symbolic exchange of emotions. First I had an eye contact then I touched one cheetah and gradually caressed both. They were adorable, I felt like hugging them tightly. But controlled myself. During training session hugging was not explained. May be cheetah did not like to be hugged by new visitor.
I spent around twenty minutes with beauties inside. Once out, I was in a dreamy stage could not believe what I did. But my Raj was in dreamy stage for different reason. He could not believe that he came out alive.
For me this experience was so enriching that I may plan to get engaged in some wildlife volunteer program in Africa.