Animal Behavior – Man & African Cheetah Experience


Dolph C. Volker is a volunteer with Cheetah Experience in South Africa, who writes books on animal behavior, something that comes naturally to him as he has studied them all his life. Volker speaks about his encounter with a cheetah named Gabriel, who he had first met in 2014. When the two first began getting familiar with each other, Volker used to spend a lot of time with Gabriel, feeding the 10 month old cub, playing with him, walking him and sometimes sleeping next to the animal at night.

On their 1st meeting, even though the animal enthusiast was apprehensive about cheetahs, Gabriel had no qualms about coming up to the man and nibbling on his pants. In fact the cheetah cub expressed so much love that he dispelled all fears that the author had ever had about this majestic animal. After about a year when Dolph returned to the reserve, he was given a warm welcome by his old friend. Gabriel came running towards the gate to meet Dolph, since he knew that the fences were electrified. The reunion was overwhelming for Volker, as the big cat began nibbling, licking and purring profusely to show his contentment. Despite being warned by the officials of Cheetah Experience about Gabriel’s aggressive behavior towards a few other staff members, Volker was firm on his decision to interact with the cheetah. His decision paid off, and the feared cat proved to the author that he hadn’t forgotten an old friend, and he had definitely remembered to love. Volker realized that Gabriel had indeed changed since the time they had first met, but with him, the cheetah was still as loving and playful as ever.

Volker attempts to educate us about the psychology of such animals, as he says that, “He can be a VERY loving Cheetah and loves to love”. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that as all animals do, this cheetah too can get hostile with someone he doesn’t like. Gabriel also hates it when someone tries to touch him when he is eating. However, all said and done, this cat does like interacting with humans. In fact, he enjoys being petted by the people he takes a liking to.

Since the reserve endeavors to provide a stress-free environment for cheetahs, which are fast dwindling in number, Volker feels it is quite important to understand how to “tame” a wild cat. It is essential that these cheetahs are humanized so they learn to trust and can facilitate the process of conservation. It is also an absolute necessity to understand each cheetah’s individual behavior and preferences. For instance, Gabriel is aggressive mostly towards women, including female cheetahs. And hence it is important to provide him with a male caretaker. Do you agree with Volker? If you do, please raise awareness about these gorgeous cats by sharing with your friends and family.