Visiting Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre

The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) is concerned with the conservation of rare, vulnerable or endangered animals. Located on the Kapama Private Game Reserve, in Hoedspruit, South Africa, it has been operating since 1990. Its focus was initially on cheetah, but has since evolved to include all endangered and vulnerable animal species. It is home to cheetah, rhino, wild dog as well as other animals in need of care. HESC facilitates the release and establishment of captive-bred animals to the wild, as well as those which have been injured and brought back to health.

Vivie Zhou recently visited the HESC and had the following to say.  ‘This well-established centre has been operating for many years. The people are full of love and passion about the endangered animals. In addition to cheetah, the centre now has more animals including wild dogs, rhino and lion. You are able to enjoy very close views of cheetahs, wild dogs and rhino, and for me, the most interesting programme they are doing currently is testing the running speed of cheetahs in the very early mornings. Although we didn’t get to personally experience the programme, I was told its it’s a very different/unique experience for tourists. I had a wonderful time and experience at HESC.’

The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) is concerned with the conservation of rare, vulnerable or endangered animals. Located on the Kapama Private Game Reserve, in Hoedspruit, South Africa, it has been operating since 1990. Its focus was initially on cheetah, but has since evolved to include all endangered and vulnerable animal species. It is home to cheetah, rhino, wild dog as well as other animals in need of care. HESC facilitates the release and establishment of captive-bred animals to the wild, as well as those which have been injured and brought back to health.

The centre takes an active role in the breeding of cheetah to prevent the further decrease in species population. A breeding programme is in place which has seen the birth of over 270 new cheetah (including 20 of the rare king cheetah).

HESC has a medical treatment facility for injured animals. Many rescued animals are treated and cared for at the veterinary clinic by specialists.

With_the_vet_in_surgeryRescued rhinos @ HESC is a sanctuary for orphaned rhinos, as well as surviving victims of poaching. HESC is currently home to 4 orphaned babies whose mothers were the victim of poaching, and 3 surviving rhinos, each of which had their horns hacked off by poachers. Two of these rhinos have made a full recovery after numerous procedures by veterinary experts, at huge expense.

Daily tours of the centre are available, commencing at 09h00 every day, with the last tour at 15h00 (different schedules run during peak periods). Each tour lasts 2 hours. An introductory video is followed by a questions and answers session with the guides. Visitors to HESC are able to enjoy a game drive on the neighbouring Big Five Kapama Game Reserve at an additional rate.

HESC is also able to accommodate overnight visitors at Khula’s Cottage. This unique and extraordinary cottage, located within the perimeter of HESC, is a true African getaway from the hustle and bustle of city living.

image_khula_12HESC is actively involved in the education of learners, students and the general public about the necessity of conservation as well as related activities. This involves a community outreach programme. HESC is also a proud partner of the Rhino youth-art conservation initiative, giving youth a voice against poaching through their art.

The Wildlife Conservation Experience (WCE) is a hands-on (one to three week) intensive programme which allows participants to learn about conservation, by working closely with HESC’s staff.  This includes working with the many animal species at HESC, and the possibility of working with the wildlife vet. The programme offers, to name only a few, daily informal lectures on conservation, animal and plant identification, tracks and signs, and South African history and cultural diversity, to visit places of interest and attractions in the area. Accommodation is at Nungu Camp, situated within the boundaries of the Big 5 Kapama Private Game Reserve.

The Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) is a non-profit organisation which is dependent on donations and sponsorships in order to care and facilitate the animals in HESC’s care.

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