Caitlin was born and raised in Gisborne, New Zealand. At age 18, Caitlin relocated to Victoria, Australia and studied for her Tourism and TEFL qualifications, whilst working in the hospitality industry to raise funds for a three month adventure to Southern Africa. At 19, she boarded a plane to Africa and never looked back. She spent a month touring around South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, before settling back in South Africa to complete an internship, working at a private game reserve. This adventure was life changing – she thoroughly enjoyed learning about, working with and seeing wild animals roam free everyday. Her passion for animal conservation and travel florished during her big OE, saying that “Africa brought out the best in me, helped me grow, and pushed me to find my true self – Africa made me a better person.”
It was whilst touring Africa she realised her undeniable passion for wildlife and travel. Upon returning to Australia, she founded The Travelling Cheetah and took a whirlwind trip through South East Asia, before relocating in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Caitlin continues to study Animal Care Science and Environmental Management, and is currently working at a private conservation reserve which focuses on the conservation of the world’s most endangered penguin – the Yellow-Eyed Penguin.
“I want to use my passion and ideas to educate and help change the world for animals worldwide.”
Acacia was born in Africa, and was adopted by Caitlin from Kruger National Park, South Africa in November 2014.
When Caitlin was in Africa she met a very beautiful young Cheetah. When the young Cheetah was a cub, her mother was killed by Lions. She and her brother were too young to look after themselves, thus the reserve managers had to capture the young siblings and secure their safety by putting them in a huge boma. Sadly, the young Cheetah’s brother died due to the stress of the whole situation, but the young Cheetah remained brave and strong, surviving against all odds. Caitlin fell in love with the Cheetah when they met, affectionately and secretly naming her Acacia. She was named Acacia after the African species of tree, being strong, resilient, sharp but incredibly beautiful. When Caitlin adopted Acacia she gave her this name to resemble the strength and drive of her namesake and animal counterpart. A month after Acacia was adopted, the young Cheetah was officially named Kwezi, and was released back in to the wild and is continuing to thrive.
Tswalu was born in Australia, and was adopted by Caitlin from Werribee Open Range Zoo, Melbourne in April 2015.
Tswalu was also given his name as an affectionate reminder of a Cheetah Caitlin met in Africa. Tswalu the Cheetah was only seen by Caitlin twice, however she adored the young man. The first time Caitlin met Tswalu he was rolling playfully in the grass. The second time she met Tswalu was at the end of her very last day on the reserve, and she spent quality time with him watching him feast upon a Kudu. The word ‘Tswalu’ means ‘a new beginning,’ which is quite fitting as Tswalu was adopted during the initial stages of development of The Travelling Cheetah project.
Whāia te iti kahurangi
ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Pursue excellence – should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain