Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Big Cat Diary August / September 2009

Julie Ward Centre

23.8.09 – I found a hare at the side of the road that had been run over by a car. I brought it back for Nimira and she really loved it!

(C) Anna Louise Pickering

20.9.09 - Pitou seems to be in season again. Normally during this time Sirius does not have a good time as Pitou wants to be mated, while Sirius is not interested!

Sinbad – he looking good. Must say I think he is lonely though and whenever he spends time by Ma Juah and Achee’s camp, he would just be pacing up and down looking just at Achee, while MJ would be growling in the background. Maybe she is telling him to keep away. Achee isn’t in season either, so this isn’t the reason for his interest (she and MJ have been implanted with contraceptives). Trouble is, it will be difficult to find a friend for Sinbad, as he is quite weak where his bones have not developed properly – and he is so small. I would love it if we could find him a friend.

(c) Anna Louise Pickering

22.9.09 - Today we are fixing some fences that need serious attention in the triplet’s camp and in Aslan and Stella’s. This needs to be done.

Jean Bird Centre

23.8.09 - We had a visitor from one of your supporters in England, the wildlife artist, Pollyanna Pickering. She visited the Centre with her daughter and our Centre Manager, Abagail.

Abagail said that all three leopards from Cyprus could be seen: Rhea was on one of the platforms at the back of the enclosure, and Leda and Roxanni came down to us, right at the front of the enclosure under a bush. It is very unusual to see those two together. Abagail said Roxanni looked so cute, lying on her back snoozing, with her back legs wide open, exposing her tummy in the sun (it’s been pretty cold her, so I expect she was loving to feel the sun on her). She then rolled over after about five minutes to have a look at us, and was resting her chin on a branch, like she didn’t have a care in the world. Leda just looked at them and grunted, but not in an aggressive manner. Abagail said this is the first time she had seen all three of them at the same time in the enclosure, and they looked beyond happy.

This is what Pollyanna wrote to us when she got back: " We had read and heard so much about the Limassol leopards, that the chance of seeing them when we visited Shamwari was like a dream come true for me! I had been told that Rhea and Roxanni tended to stick together, while Leda, their Mum, had spent more time alone since her arrival. As we sat quietly by the enclosure, Leda came right down to the perimeter fence, and sat looking at her visitors - and she was joined by one of her daughters, who lay contentedly in the grasses just behind. She rolled over on to her back, and apart from raising her head briefly to glance at us, paid no attention. It was a magical moment to see them sitting so peacefully together under the South African sunshine. I am looking forward to painting these beautiful big cats for one of my future exhibitions."

Photo Anna-Louise Pickering
Wildlife artist Pollyanna Pickering and the Born Free team at Shamwari

27.8.09 - Well the Cyprus leopards are doing very well and Martin, our animal care assistant there, reports that he has seen all three spending time together. Roxanni appears to be in season too. She has been grumbling and rolling on the ground, and presenting herself to her sister, Rhea, much to Rhea’s annoyance. Leda was right at the back of the camp, watching.

We have asked Maboeti, our animal care assistant based at the Jean Byrd Centre, to see if Kuma, our male leopard living next door, has picked up that Roxanni might be in season, and to see if there has been any interaction between them. Kuma was nowhere to be seen this morning.

Photo BFF/Shamwari

28.8.09 – We have had to shut Roxanni in her hospital camp for a few days, until her season is over, as Rhea has been getting so fed up at being pestered by her.

29.9.09 - Rhea has been hanging around outside her sister’s camp with mum Leda remaining at the top, in the bushes. Kuma has been very well-behaved, however Leda has been seen looking at him for hours, doing the whole staring thing. More news, Sarnia has come into season for the first time! Brutus has been seen mating with her. (Brutus has been vasectomised, so all is well!) Marina is not in season as yet and was just in the background and now and then Brutus would chase her away.

There is also a lot of interaction between Brutus and Shada; they often rush at the fence but we keeping an eye on it. It’s not in the friendliest manner but they don’t pester each other all day like Shada and Jools used to do when they lived next door to each other. Shada doesn’t back down from Brutus as she used to with Jools; she just used to walk away from Jools when Jools was getting hostile. Now she and Brutus are both instigating the interactions when they see each other. Shada normally stalks Brutus and then he rushes the fence but stops about 1 ½ metres from the fence, they then run up and down the fence for a while and then just start roaring at each other and walk away. Jools and Jerry are much happier without Shada next door. They are very close and whenever mum gets up and walks off, Jerry gets up too and follows her.

31.8.09 – I was feeding today and Brutus seemed to be completely flirting with Shada, even though she has been implanted with hormones so is not in season. There was no aggression at ALL between them. She just took her meat and walked away. We fed him and then she came back to drink water and Brutus started rolling around on his back and grunting seductively at her next to his meat. Funny animals!

11.9.09 - Brutus has been giving the cubs a hard time and been chasing them around and been quite grumpy. I see he has 2 scratches on his nose but they don’t seem serious. Brutus is still very interested in Shada.

12.9.09 - And today they were all lovely dovey with each other! Marina was snuggled up next to Brutus. I think everyone’s hormones are all over the place .

(c) Susan Rankine
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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