Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary
Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary at the Crags, Plettenberg Bay
home to the endangered White Tiger, Siberian tiger, Black Leopard is the latest addition to the many activities that make Plettenberg Bay one of the top holiday destinations in South Africa. Being just 10kms along the N2 towards Port Elizabeth its location is very convenient being on the way to The Crags which is already well established as a area with numerous “must see’s” whilst in Plett. It shares an entrance with Plett Puzzle Park which is well signposted. Jukani themselves are still waiting for approval from the Roads Department for their own signage.
On a blustery and chilly August day I had the opportunity to pay Jukani and their beautiful wild cats a visit in their new 17 ha home. The park is well laid out with large enclosures, each of which has been carefully thought out and designed to suit the needs of the animals – trees to climb for those animals that like to survey the scenery from a lofty perch, dams to swim in and shade from the abundant vegetation to lie in while keeping a close eye on their neighbours or if they’re feeling the need for a retreat their natural camouflage will keep them hidden very successfully. Good use has been made of the natural vegetation and it’s surprising to know that Jukani only opened just a few weeks ago.
At Jukani you can see most of the larger cats such as lion, Bengal and Siberian tiger, jaguar, leopard, cheetah, puma and caracal and together with rarer species such as white lions and tigers and black leopard. Sad, but true, is that a number of these magnificent animals are no longer found in the wild as their natural habitat has been compromised to such an extent by man’s intervention that we will only be able to see them in a sanctuary such as Jukani.
The sanctuary is also home to other predators such as African wild dog, hyena, jackal, honey badger and zorilla (striped polecat).
The snake enclosure is presently under construction so I was not able to visit that but I’m sure I’ll be back for another visit sometime soon.
The experienced and knowledgeable guides introduce the guests to Jukani’s inhabitants whilst offering a wealth of interesting and fascinating information regarding each of the species. As the creatures who have found a sanctuary at Jukani are wild and potentially dangerous, stringent precautions have been taken to ensure the safety and well-being of both the animals as well as the safety of visitors. The fences are strong, high and electrified which poses no threat to the animals as they can sense the voltage and keep clear. I noted that the lower strands of electrical wire is turned off in the caracul enclosures and they too are well aware that they can touch and rub against these strands but have a healthy respect for those that are electrified.
The paths between the enclosures are wide enough for wheel chair access or prams although the ground is uneven and laid with bark chips. It is recommended that comfortable, sturdy walking shoes are worn. Being a park of good size a distance of approximately 1.4 kms is covered from start to finish so be prepared for a good walk.
I enjoyed my visit to the cats, many of which I had only previously seen in photos. They are indeed impressive and so beautiful. The gentle chuff, chuff sound the tiger made to welcome us was a surprise to me as I was not aware of their method of communication. I knew and have heard the cheetahs purr, but tigers ? Hmm I’d not thought how they communicated.
Rates: Adults R150; Children 3 – 12 years R75; under 3 free
Jukani is open from 9am to 5pm; tour duration ± 1 hour; To book call 044 534 8853;
A welcome addition to Plett. I’m sure that Jukani will soon become as well known as the other sanctuaries – Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre which focuses on what are known as the Lesser indigenous cats, Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, Elephant Sanctuary and Lawnwood Snake Park.