There are times when big cats really show they are just larger versions of household cats; this is one of those times. Though obviously not domesticated in quite the same way as the tabby cats sitting in the windows of suburban houses, it's very clear sometimes that big cats are quite closely related to their smaller feline friends.
Zoologist and wildlife photographer, Dolph C. Volker, shares his experiences with cheetahs on his Facebook page entitled "The Cheetah Whisperer." Volker's conservation work was inspired when he lost his pet dog. Overcome with grief and sorrow, he decided to dedicate his life to helping animals.
Volker would often spend his vacations volunteering at the Cheetah Experience in South Africa.
During one trip, Volker was tired and decided to take a nap under a tree.
A cheetah named Eden noticed him napping. She pranced over to him, sniffed him and decided to curl up and have a nap with him! When he awoke, he was started to see the big cat cuddled up with him; but it was the start of a lifelong friendship.
Volker uses his Facebook page to raise awareness about cheetahs. This photo of a cheetah named Gabriel was uploaded on December 5th, International Cheetah Day.
The post explains that there are only 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild and approximately 3,000 in captivity.
Volker plans on establishing a not-for-profit cheetah breeding program in South Africa. The project will raise cubs with their mothers, train them to hunt and behave as if they were in the wild, and ultimately release most of them back into the wild.
Some of the cheetahs will be kept for future breeding projects. In order to maintain genetic diversity, some of the cubs will be traded with other breeding projects.
Volker is doing this out of a love for the animals and his desire to get the species to survive.