The Cango Wildlife Ranch is a wildlife ranch 3 km north of the town of Oudtshoorn in South Africa and about a. hour and half drive from Knysna. My brother and I drove from Knysna through the Outeniqua mountains to visit this ranch. We were quite surprised at the temperature difference as it was a lovely 26 degrees in Knysna and a boiling 37 degrees in Oudtshoorn.
We read that the Cango Wildlife Ranch, which was established in 1977, is counted as one of the best conservation institutions in the world, and is best know for it’s noble cheetah and Bengal tiger breeding programs.
I was quite surprised that there wasn’t a long line to stand in at the entrance as it was December, but then again, it was a very hot day. Our entrance ticket included a 60-minute guided of the ranch. The tour starts in an ancient temple inhabited by giant flying foxes, various exotic birds, blue duiker, underwater viewing of cichlids and giant river turtles. This Valley of Ancients is a magnificent place to stroll around in. Fruit bats and various bird species fly near your head whilst baby crocodiles and tropical cichlid fish share a large viewing tank nearby.
We then walked past a Malawian lakeshore home to red river hogs and prehistoric giant water monitors. For me the vulture cliff face where endangered Cape vultures roost and share their leftovers with the Marabou Stork was one of the highlights. This large vulture is dark brown except for the pale wing coverts. The adult is paler than the juvenile, and its under wing coverts can appear almost white at a distance. The vultures are stunningly beautiful compared to the ugly stork!!
This themed walk-through experience is designed to make you aware of modern day conservation issues and gave me a chance to be reminded how magnificent these wild animals are. I loved seeing the Malagasy ring-tailed lemurs. They are the most recognized lemur due to its long, black and white ringed tail. The ring-tailed lemur is highly social, living in groups of up to 30 individuals. It is also female dominant, a trait common among lemurs. To keep warm and reaffirm social bonds, groups will huddle together.
The have a couple of very small and cute pygmy hippos but they were all hiding in the shade so we couldn’t get a good look at them.
After crossing the hanging bridge over Snapper Gorge, we got to view these amazing killing machines from up close. It was midday so most of the crocodiles were lying on the river bank with their mouths wide open. That is not an aggressive posture, but a way to cool off: they sweat through the mouth! Did you know that each crocodile jaw carries 24 sharp teeth meant to grasp and crush, not to chew? That’s why they swallow stones that grind the food inside their stomachs (the stomach stones also serve as ballast). The teeth are continuously replaced along the crocodile’s life. Crocodiles can exert enormous pressure when closing their jaws, but the force for opening them is so weak, that an adhesive band is enough to keep a large crocodiles’ jaw shut up.
On our way to the cheetah land we passed these huge tortoises. Tortoises reach sexual maturity between the ages of 12 and 20 and usually mate from spring to fall, mostly during the summer. I was very lucky to actually get to see this happening!
Male tortoises have glands that release secretions that can potentially attract a mate. Males also bob their head and make grunting or hissing sounds that coincide with courtship. A male will also bite at a female’s legs before mating, and if a female accepts the mate, she will allow him to mount her. I got to hear these small grunts emitted by the male tortoise while mating.
We then went onto an elevated catwalk in Cheetah land where we had a bird’s eye-view of some of the world’s most endangered and unique big cats.
I got to see the rare white Bengal tigers, there were three of them lying in the shade of some bushes and we had a chance to stand and watch them for a while. Compared to normal colored tigers without the white gene, white tigers tend to be somewhat bigger, both at birth and as fully grown adults.
As we walked we also got to see 2 baby Bengal Tigers playing! It is sad to think that many subspecies of the tiger are either endangered or already extinct. Humans are the primary cause of this through hunting and the destruction of habitats.
I loved seeing the cheetah and the magnificent leopard. Cheetahs can reach speeds of up to 100km per hour (70mph) and are the world’s fastest land mammal. However, they can only run at their prey for relatively short distances, so prefer to creep up on and then spring into action.
We did get to see the white, although he was sleeping so we couldn’t get a good look at him.
At the end of this guided tour we took a leisurely walk through the interactive lorikeet aviary, and wandered among the wallabies in Wallaby Walkabout.