Meet the French Tarzan who’’s helping cheetahs adapt to the wild

February 10th, 2009 - 3:03 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 10 (ANI): With film-star looks, long untamed locks and a special bond with wild animals, Olivier Houalet has become a real-life Tarzan who can relate to cheetahs just like his cinematic counterpart.
Houalet has developed such a special way of dealing with the animals that he has become known as “the cheetah whisperer”.
The Frenchman has spent the past ten years in Namibia rescuing big cats and trying to find a way of returning them to the wild.
With his methods it could be possible to save hundreds of cats orphaned by poachers or natural causes.
The 28-year-old man spends months in danger with the cats inside enclosures, hoping that after their released they would allow him to follow them into the bush.
Following this method, he makes sure that they can hunt properly and stay away from areas where protective farmers could kill them.
And now, a TV documentary about his exploits, titled ”Cheetah Man” will be screened on Five.
“I spent eight months going into the fenced area with the cheetahs every day. They always challenged me - every single time,” The Sun quoted him as saying in the documentary.
He added: “But you just have to stay strong and not show any fear when they look as if they are going to attack you. And you have to mean it - you can”t fake it or they can tell.
“I use my hands to make my body seem as big as possible, and eye contact is very important too.
“Through your eyes, they feel your meaning. If you mean strength and respect, they will be receptive. They see you come in peace.
“It might look dangerous but if you feel no fear it’’s easy. Most animals - deadly snakes, lions - will only kill if they have to, to protect themselves.
“If you think like a cheetah, they will accept you into their group.”
It was at the age of 18 that Olivier left France for Africa, with the determination to realise his vision of a world where animals are protected.
Initially, he rescued small cats and then took up his first two cheetahs.
After years observing animals, he now has expert knowledge but no qualifications.
He said: “Normally they are set free and die because they can”t cope on their own. This way, I can still release them but I can follow them and help them until they learn to look after themselves.
“Most people can”t do that because they can”t get close enough to them, or they lose them.
“If I call them, they come to me. That is completely unique. Usually humans dominate animals by drugging them or using sticks to frighten them into submission - I am part of their group.”
He’’s also planning to educate farmers, who kill the animals they see as pests.
He said: “We must stop thinking we are masters of the world and all the life within it. The key is to give solutions to these people rather than start a war. We can”t live without nature. We have to wake up before it’’s too late.” (ANI)

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