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A Farewell to Animals

WRITTEN BY // John McIlvaine CATEGORIES // The Inverdoorn Diaries

7 - 13 April

A Farewell to Animals

This weekend wrapped up my last few days at Inverdoorn. I have been here just over three months and what an experience it has been. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I first arrived, but it didn't take long to figure out that even though every day's routine was similar, it was also always different. The work wasn't always fun or easy, but the fun times made it all the more worthwhile. I have experienced things I never thought I would get to experience and I will remember them for the rest of my life.

Over the last three months I have met some amazing people and made some great friends, and I have become attached to the animals and it will be hard to say goodbye to them. Some of my favorite times were when we went tracking in the reserve for the two wild cheetahs. Every day going into the reserve was exciting for me – you never know what you are going to see and I was always on the lookout for whatever animals may be running around or hiding in the bushes.

The tracking itself is always exciting. Every time we are tracking and I hear the beeping sound the cheetah's collar makes over the radio, it is exciting. Then after that you still have to narrow your search and find the cheetah itself, which can be very simple or very difficult depending on the terrain.

Another one of my favorite parts of working with the cheetahs was getting to take Velvet and Iziba to the dam or to the cheetah playground. In both places we can take the cheetahs off their leashes and let them walk around free and chase and play with each other. It was amazing to see them run around and explore the different sights and smells of their free environment. Iziba is always chasing and trying to bite and play with Velvet and just watching them and their two different characteristics, moods and personalities could keep me entertained for hours.

I am also going to miss the two baby rhinos, Bundu and Lavinia. I got to help feed and care for them almost every other morning since I have been here, and watching them play and fight just like any siblings do was an amazing experience. There is something so majestic, powerful, prehistoric, and yet calm, peaceful and gentle about rhinos.

It has been awesome to work closely with both the cheetahs and the rhinos in my time here and I will take not only the memories and experiences with me, but also the skills and training to further my own dream of making a career of working with wild animals.

I would like to thank everyone at Inverdoorn and all of the animals for making my time here meaningful and memorable. I look forward to keeping in touch with the friends I have made and visiting them and the animals again in the future.

About the author

John McIlvaine

John McIlvaine hails from the United States and is a volunteer at Western Cape Cheetah Conservation, based at Inverdoorn Game Reserve.

Reservations & Info

Inverdoorn Game Reserve


112 LOOP STREET 8001

Tel:  +27 (0)214 220 013
Fax: +27 (0)86 719 71 50


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  • Meeting the Volunteers: Mélissa Boursier

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Keep up to Date

For all the latest news about your favourite animals at Inverdoorn like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest news and blog posts about the cheetahs, the rhinos, the lions and all the other animals that live on the reserve. Read about the people who look after them and have dedicated their lives to wildlife and its conservation.

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Contact Infos

Inverdoorn Game Reserve

112 LOOP STREET 8001

Tel:  +27 (0)214 220 013
Fax: +27 (0)86 719 7150


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