What does a combination of fear and trepidation braised with intense excitement taste like? Well it is completely delicious!
The Cheetah Conservancy Project in the Nambiti Game Reserve in South Africa is dedicated to breeding and then releasing these elegant feline creatures into wild Africa. A novel experience is their 'Cheetah Interaction' experience that allows a curious public close contact with these animals. It was early morning in the game reserve and I thought interaction meant playing with cheetah cubs, petting an aging toothless feline and taking a few memorable photos. I was quite off guard when the game ranger told me to take the leash on a youthful, energetic cheetah called Nitro. I of course pretended to treat this request as routine. And so the one hour journey into the African bush began with three other explorers, three cheetahs and three guides.
The three cheetahs were in 'hunt mode' and spotted a warthog on another hill. Their super select sense of smell as well as their poise made them an authentic vision to behold. To have one beside my body to watch and touch as we maneuvered through a well worn bush path was electrifying. I was told that Nitro had made fourteen kills - mainly of impala, kudu and blesbok. He was scheduled to be released into the wild in the next six months. While I did not want to be his fifteenth kill, I somehow managed to push past my fears and allowed him to lick the back of my hand. There was a rough, sandpaper touch in his tongue.
Stepping out of my comfort zone allowed me to experience a majestic creature who would be allowed to roam freely in the wild landscapes of Africa.
- What are you willing to attempt to step outside your fears?