Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Jean Byrd Centre Diary

Written by Headman Matyumza and Kelvin Buys
December 2016

Hello to all.  We are all doing excellently, and we had many visitors who came to see what BFF is all about. 

We experienced very high temperature and very dry conditions in December; and it is very sad to know that animals were dying in other reserves and National Parks. 


Shada, rescued from a French circus in November 2006


She is doing very well and loves her food. We see her every day. Guests who visit us, they remark on what a big and strong looking lioness she is.  In the morning she likes to chill by the bottom fence line close to the water trough or on the roof of her shelter in the main camp, minding her business.  Later she moves to sleep at the back under the trees. The ticks are not too bad because sometimes I manage to spray her with ‘Frontline’; sometime she runs away.  She used to be very territorial with her white lion neighbours, and with Jora and Black, the lion brothers in the next door camp, but she is used to them now and no longer stalks them, she will just sit and look at them.  

Leda and her daughter Rhea, rescued from Limassol Zoo in Cyprus in June 2009

Headman cleaning Rhea’s hospital camp

The elderly ladies are doing fantastically well, and they are taking their food very well, and we don’t have any concerns for their health.  

Leda, the mum, is not often visible to the guests, she doesn’t use the hospital camp us much as in previous months, where she could be seen more easily.  She has got as new spot to hide, behind her ‘jungle gym’ or inside her shelter. I think it’s because of the hot weather.  There are more trees for shade in the main camp.  I sometimes struggle to get the bones out of the main camp, because she is always in there.  She will come out into the hospital camp when she is comfortable. 

Rhea - she is also using the main camp more often, she uses the hospital camp only for water when she is thirsty.  Once she done she will go back to the main camp.  When I am doing the fence checks she likes to snarl at me, I still think she is sweet though.  

Black and Jora.  These brothers were rescued from a closed-down circus in Bulgaria in September 2015

Black at the back and Jora in front

The boys are doing very well, and are always together. They are taking their food very well too and eat it all. We still separate them during feeding time.  Sometimes Black will be in the hospital camp and we leave Jora in the main camp, then at the next feed we swap them.  Once they have finished their food I let them together again. 

What I noted recently is that in the morning they like to be in the main camp by the bottom fence line close to the water through with minimum movements and later they moved inside the hospital camp to sleep inside shelter, they spend more time in the hospital camp, playing together chasing each other there. 

Queen and Jabulani, ex-breeding farm lions.  Arrived Shamwari April 2015

Queen and Jabulani

The white lions are doing excellently. They love to be in the shade of the tree, the one is close to the water trough, or to be under their platform.  Sometimes our guests are lucky to see them sleeping in the open, close to the viewing deck changing position as they sleep, sometimes on their backs, sometimes on their side.  

Feeding time – in this hot weather we had been feeding them both in the main camp, as there are no trees in the hospital camp.  However, we have noticed Jabu stealing Queen’s food, so we have separated them again.  Now I wait until Queen finishes her food then I let the gate open so that she can go into the main camp for shade.  Then, once JB has finished his food he will go and sleep next to Queen under their platform.  I love that bond they have.

Read the latest Julie Ward Big Cat Diary here! 

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

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