The Crags is an important part of the Garden Route in terms of the wildlife to which it is home. In addition to rescue facilities like Birds of Eden and Monkeyland, the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary joined the ranks when it moved to this area in August 2013.
Having been established near George in 2005, this facility has been integral to the rescue of a number of beautiful and impressive wildlife species (from zoos and other similar institutions around the world). A tour of this sanctuary provides an incredibly close perspective of a host of predators and other animals within their natural environment.
Photograph: Jukani Caracal
The enclosures are massive, and great effort has been invested into making each enclosure as large, safe and comfortable as possible for the species to which it is home. Natural forests have been left untouched so that the tigers, jaguars, lions, and so on are able to enjoy their surrounds. This also means that, if they want privacy, they have the option of retreating.
This is quite different to many of the world’s zoos and parks, in which animals are put on display with no option of hiding from the human masses. Because big cats are so often the victims of this kind of exploitation, they are the main residents of Jukani.
Residents include tawny lions, white lions, Bengal tigers, hyenas, wild dogs, Siberian tigers, jaguars, caracals, servals, zebras, snakes, and even a crafty honey badger.
Photograph: Jukani Lions
The guides are knowledgeable and insightful, providing background information on each animal and its unique personality. A tour takes approximately one hour, giving visitors the opportunity to watch the animals playing, lazing in the sun or approaching their human visitors. Our guide, Santel, has been working with these animals for years. This gave her plenty to talk about, as she provided interesting facts about each individual animal, its preferences, quirks and experiences.
We also learnt a lot about the threats that these animals face and the necessity behind sanctuaries like Jukani. Because the animals know the guides so well, they usually respond to their calls and voices, curious of the spectators that they had brought along with them. This gave us a great opportunity to see them up close and to watch them interact with the guide.
Photography ramps are in the process of being built, and will give visitors a fantastic platform from which to take absolutely stunning photographs without being hindered by the fence.
Photograph: Jukani Leopard
The Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary has partnered with Birds of Eden and Monkeyland under the SAASA (South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance) umbrella. Therefore, packages are available for those that want to see one, two or all three of these facilities, with discounted rates for multiple destinations.
There is a small curio shop that has a range of postcards, clothing items, toys, and keepsakes that make for great gifts for those back home. There is also a restaurant-cum-coffee shop on the premises.
Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary has successfully managed to merge the wonders of some of the world’s most beautiful wild animals with a tourist experience that does not cause the animals stress or any harm. Rather, these rescues are able to enjoy protection within the natural habitats while raising awareness.
Photograph: Jukani Tiger
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Contact Details for Jukani:
Address: The Crags, Plettenberg Bay, Garden Route
Telephone: +27 (0)44 534-8853 for more information