Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Julie Ward and Jean Byrd Centres – December 2009.

Written by Glen Vena, Animal Care Manager at BFF / Shamwari sanctuaries

For most of December I was away on leave and Sidney was looking after all the cats. Christine, our Education Manager, was very kind to help out while I was away. Whenever Sidney was busy preparing meat for the cats or collecting meat from our nearby farmers who had donated carcasses, Christine would deal with all the guests that visit the centre. Well, I returned on the 23rd December. Must say it was good to be back. I had a great time with my family and it was time that we needed to spend together. However it was good to see my second family here at work, Sidney also did a great job. All the cats looked in tip top condition. All looked so slim!! Or maybe it was that I hadn’t seen them for three weeks?!

So here is a brief summary of all the cats at the centre; the summary on Jean Byrd centre is with the compliments of Martin.

Julie Ward Centre

Pitou and Sirius: 

These two cats are doing very well and love each other to bits, however that relationship changes big time when Pitou is in season and poor Sirius has to hide most of the time as Pitou wants to mate with him.  Although Sirius was showing interest in Pitou last time she was in season, he is back to being not interested at all. Most of the time we will see Pitou sitting on him pushing him with her head; on the odd occasion you would see one paw smacking Sirius, poor guy. That would last for a few days then and all would be back to normal.

During feeding we feed Pitou on the hospital camp just to make sure both get the right amount of food. Sirius is a bit larger then Pitou.  I’m not sure if this is because he is less active than Pitou.  He loves his privacy and most of the time he remains hiding in the bushes.  The best time we ever had with him was when GMTV from England was here doing some filming, he came out and didn’t even mind the film crew being there at all.  I hope all of you saw that on GMTV!

I do not have new pictures of both of them together this time, however I have two of Sirius on his jungle gym.

Ma Juah and Achee

The girls are great with each other.  During these hot days they are spending more and more time in their hospital camp, where they feel more comfortable, well that means the guests that want to see them are not usually lucky, however during the afternoons these two lions come down to the front, so the children that come at 3.00pm get to see them most of the time. Achee is still very playful and MJ is very protective. Recently I have not seen them looking at Sinbad. Otherwise all is in order and there is not much to report.

Over Christmas Jean Byrd, our sponsor of the Jean Byrd Centre, and her daughter Kate, came to visit us at Shamwari and stayed at Lobengula Lodge.  I think Jean had a good time with us.  MJ and Achee are two of her favourite cats at our centres so Jean came to visit them.   Ma Juah knows her and even gave a few purrs, which was great, Jean thinks!!!

Here is a picture of Achee fast a sleep after her Christmas lunch that I gave her.

Photo Vena / BFF / Shamwari
Achee, sleeping after Christmas lunch!!

Leopard Triplets – Sami, Alam and Nimira

Triplets, lovely cats, however can be very mischievous!! Like I say it has been hot most of the days here, so even they were rarely seen - can you believe that?! They are always out; nothing keeps them from coming out. This heat has been terrible! Our river that runs through Shamwari is very low on water and we have water restrictions that we have to follow. Must say it is very difficult to wash a 130 Land Rover pick up with a 5 litre water bucket! Any way the cats know to keep cool.

So I do not have any new pictures that I took as they do not co-operate in this heat. So here is a picture you may have seen before, I will have up dated by next time.

Glen Vena / BFF Shamwari
Alam in front, Sami to the left and Nimira to the right


As I keep saying, I think he could do with a companion but I know it will be so difficult because of his physical problems. However he is doing well all by himself and strangely we are seeing more of him in these hot days.   Last year he had seemed to have trouble coping with the heat, and was always hiding in the shade. Now, just like the triplets he uses the water trough to keep himself cool. Believe me he has more then enough undergrowth in his camp, if he wants to use it.  God willing this year I want to tackle his camp to do some serious clearing there.  I’m sure he will love this as lions prefer more open areas. He will still have lots of bush, we will just take out the unwanted stuff like the exotics and thorns.

Glen Vena/BFF/Shamwari

Aslan and Stella:

They are looking good and since I came back Aslan has not damaged the fence, so that is great.  You see he gets really exited when he sees the BFF landie coming with food.

Stella is good too, however I’m keeping any eye on her as she has this wheezing sound that she makes, so when ever I hear this I notifiy the Vets.  Other than that there is not much to report, they well and kicking.  They are the oldest cats that we have here.  We think Aslan is 21 years old, and Stella is 20.

Vena / BFF / Shamwari

Jean Byrd Centre

Brutus, Sarnia and Marina

Not a lot has not been going on between them this month; most of their time was being spent sleeping in the shade and under the acacia bushes. The heat of the day was so intense that it couldn’t allow them to move often.

There is a slight change in Sarnia’s eating habits: she is learning to take time to eat her food; it’s something she wasn’t doing before. Apart from this everything else is just normal.

Photo Vena / BFF / Shamwari


Her favourite spot these days is at the top of the camp especially under the canopy of the thick bushes. Sometimes she will come to relax in the shade close to the middle of the camp.

Photo Vena / BFF / Shamwari

Kuma – leopard from Abidjan Zoo

Kuma is eating well and spend most of his time relaxing.  Although his leg still seems to be hurting, but that doesn’t stop him from doing want he wants. He is still limping but there are signs of recovery; he is getting better by the day.  On 7th December he was X-rayed to see why he had been limping.  While he was anaesthised our vets found a little lump on the back of his back left ankle, about the size of half a squash ball.  The radiographs showed a reaction around the bone that could be a number of things - a reaction to an old injury, metabolic disorder or a start of a cancer.   The initial blood results came back with nothing abnormal.  On 10th December, Kuma was darted again and a piece of the lump was removed – a biopsy – so we could find out exactly what cells are in the lump.  The results showed nothing significant, so we think the swelling must be from an old injury.  It is good news it is nothing more serious.

Leopards from Limazzol Zoo - Leda, Rhea and Roxanne

We have had to separate them to stop some fighting that was developing – each one taking it in turn to spend time in the hospital camp and then let out into the main camp.   The wound has healed well on Rhea’s tail and mum Leda is also showing more confidence and so getting less intimidation from her other daughter, Roxanni.

On the 24th Dec Leda was let out into the main camp to establish her territory once again Roxanni and Rhea are in the hospital camps, separated but next to each other, and they seem to be doing well.  They are not showing any aggression towards each other; every thing seems to be okay.  However, we are going to monitor this.

Well Leda, she is doing well in the main camp and she is loving it, but even when she was in the hospital camp she looked vey happy in there; she didn’t seem to mind the small area. Martin did report to me that she is spending most of her time at the top of the main camp, which she seems to see as her territory, and she still sits on top of her shelter.   So, we going to give this time and see how it goes. Once we are happy with the behaviour towards each other we will let Rhea in with mum Leda in to the main camp to re-bond, if I may call it that way. We will give them time with each other and once we are happy and see that Rhea is not fighting with mum Leda then we will release Roxanni into main camp and monitor from there.  We will also make sure none of them are in season. We think the fighting happens during the time when one is in season.

Anyway will talk more about this later.  See pictures below of Roxanni plucking hair off her food and another picture of her on the ‘jungle gym’ that was built by the World Wide Experience students.

  • Photo Vena / BFF / Shamwari
  • Photo Vena / BFF / Shamwari

Jools and Jerry

Jools was on the medication for an infection on her skin.  She is off it now, but her her skin condition didn’t change that much after the medication, as it did before.  Apart from that both are doing well. Sleeping a lot is what they enjoyed most these hot days. When its a bit cooler they prefer to sleep on top of the shelter. Jerry prefers to eat his food besides the water trough at the moment.

Photo Vena / BFF / Shamwari

At a Born Free Foundation fund-raising event in June 2009, Claire Smith successfully bid for a photograph taken by Virginia McKenna of little Sinbad, the pint-sized lion rescued from a zoo in Romania and now living at one of the Born Free sanctuaries within Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa.   Claire and her sister Caroline had helped raise the funds needed to rescue Sinbad and now they had the chance to visit him in person. Read Caroline’s report of their visit to Shamwari in October 2009

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

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