Home in Africa

The week of May the 1st 2017 was an incredibly exciting week for Born Free as we helped give two needy wild animals a second chance of a life worth living.  I have asked my friend and colleague, Beth Brooks, to tell the story in the Guest Blog.

Enjoy!

Will

Ciam at Shamwari

“With his head held high, Ciam the lion stood in the middle of his vast enclosure, surrounded by the vivid greens and browns of the African bush. Proud, elegant and taking in the sights, smells and sounds of South Africa, Ciam was home.

Just moments before, Virginia McKenna had opened the gate of Ciam’s night quarters at Born Free’s Jean Byrd Centre at Shamwari, South Africa.

Ciam had spent the first seven months of his life as an ‘exotic pet’ in a cramped cage. This was followed by 18 months at Belgian wildlife sanctuary Natuurhulpcentrum (NHC), so no one knew how he would react to so much space. But he immediately began to explore his new home.

This incredible moment was the culmination of a 32-hour, 10,000km journey by road and air from Belgium to South Africa to rehome Ciam, and 17-year-old former zoo lion Nelson. I was honoured to be a member of the Born Free rehoming team which included colleagues from Shamwari and NHC.

That same morning, Nelson had been introduced to his new home at Born Free’s Julie Ward Animal Rescue and Education Centre. Nelson was rescued from a French zoo and had also been living at NHC, but wasn’t as keen to embrace change as Ciam. With a little encouragement, Nelson left his night quarters for a brief stroll around his new home, but headed back in soon afterwards. Over the next couple of days his visits to his main enclosure started getting longer, and we are confident he will soon be fully settled at Shamwari.

The different reactions of Ciam and Nelson to their new homes highlighted for me why Born Free’s Compassion Conservation philosophy is so important. Born Free has not just given two lions a new forever home – Born Free has given two individuals a new life. Two lions with completely different personalities who have had to endure hardship and deprivation. Gentle and playful Ciam took the long journey and the introduction to his new home in his stride. But the much older Nelson – having spent 17 years in a zoo – will certainly take longer to adjust. Every animal truly is different.

Ciam and Nelson can never be released fully back into the wild, but at Shamwari – and with the wonderful Born Free team there – they will receive the best care possible. Care that will hopefully erase memories of the suffering they have been forced to endure for the sake of human entertainment.

Together they highlight the plight of the millions of captive wild animals around the world – kept in zoos, circuses or as exotic pets. Individually, they show that every single animal deserves a life worth living.

It was quite an experience for them – and it was quite an experience for me. One I shall never forget.

Beth”

Press Officer Born Free Foundation

You can help us with future Big Cat Rescues with a donation

3 Responses to “Home in Africa”

  1. Nikki Says:

    Thanku for saving these beautiful majestic creatures. I am so happy for them to have they life they truly deserve finally. Thanku to all involved you do great work.

  2. Chris Says:

    Brilliant work by the Born Free team, I received a lovely call today from Born Free thanking me for our donation to this rescue mission. We feel proud to have been a very small part of it and it is heart warming to think that these beautiful creatures have a new beginning in the environment where they belong.

  3. Eric Says:

    Thank you for what you do one by one step by step We will get to what We Want