Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Julie Ward Centre Diary January 2012

Written by Glen Vena

We have had really warm days that hit 40ºC - this was not cool! Then it changes and we have been having some good rains for days now and this is welcomed big time, I could even see the animals was relaxed and enjoying themselves in the rain - a much needed shower.


ASLAN – rescued by BFF from a Greek zoo in 1995, and arrived at Shamwari in 1999.  His mate Stella was, sadly, euthanased on 29th December 2011.

He is doing well under the circumstances. Good thing is that he is not walking around the main camp looking lonely, he is very much alive now! He is roaring! Marking his territory! These are things that make me happier and make it easier to move on as I can see he has accepted his new situation; I can only wish him all the best for the future ahead.  I can be positive if he is. 

He is eating well, drinking well and his skin is nice and shiny. However he is not gaining any weight, I’m sure all of us know by now that he is very old and as is it with us, when we get old we loose the muscle tone of our younger years, but rest assured he has that Aslan spirit in him and he is not to be under-estimated, he can still give you a very scary look.  O my gosh how could I forget to mention his charge to the fence that makes you want you to take a few steps back, he still gives me goose bumps on my skin.

Male lion aslan

I have tried a few things to keep him busy and this I have done in the hosp camp as it is a nice small area where I can see him and observe closely. Well I did try the iced blood lollie – this is a big block of frozen water (frozen in a 5 litre container) with bits of liver, heart and kidneys in there, and I would freeze this up in our very big freezer so on those warm days it could cool him off nicely.  However, instead of licking it he would smack it around and leave it to defrost and than he would eat the bits of meat. He is very clever.

Well the second thing I did with him and I did get pictures of this as he was very busy with the hay  (I think that’s what you call it in the UK , we call it teff).  I put chunks of meat in the teff and he loved ripping the big bale apart, to get the meat out.  It was interesting to observe. See pictures below, these I have taken with my mobile.

Aslan loved this and the sounds he was making were unbelievable, growling and barking at me, scent-marking, every thing that a lion would do to protect his territory. Well, it is good to keep him busy, all good for now.

Aslan Update - Sad news

Sinbad – rescued from a Romanian zoo in 2007

Both Dr Johan and I were a bit worried about Sinbad as we know in the heat he does not do well, but surprisingly he did very well, he kept in the shade and only came out later in the day when cool, know that is what I call very sensible, is that not so?! So most of the time in the warm days, the guests that came to visit were not lucky to see him.  Sorry all, but the cats come first and they can do as they please here as they were deprived of this privacy in their previous lives.  I think we are all in agreement here.

Okay then, here are some pictures, hope you going to like them.

male lion sinbad
I took this one during feeding just to give you all an idea how protective he is over his food. He literally covers the whole portion with his body then when I start to move away, he relaxes and starts licking the hairs off it!

Sirius – rehomed from Monaco Zoo in January 2008

He is looking good and we see him every day now we are feeding him daily.  He still the kind of leopard that really loves his privacy so even during feeding he just takes his food and he is gone in seconds, well as long as that makes him happy I’m fine with it. Christine has been very lucky with him.  She tells whenever she takes guests around, most of the times she will see him and that he would be very relaxed and would walk past the viewing deck without looking nervous.

He looks so well, a very happy chap!

Triplets - Sami, Alam, Nimira – found motherless in the Sudan and rehomed at Shamwari in 2001.

They look really good, playful and loving as ever, we often see them grooming each other.  They still make use of their platforms to sit on and look at the open plains.


Leopard triplets
Alam grooming Nimira as she is joining them in this wrestling match
All three of them where grooming each other at the same time
Sami in front with his back towards us, Alam on left sitting and Nimira to the right

Achee and Ma Juah – Achee was rehomed from a private home in Romania in September 2004, and Ma Juah was rescued from a zoo in Liberia in July 2004

The other day I got to them when they were sleeping and they were close to the fence, well they were cool and remained where they were although MJ managed to show us her big canine teeth.  She has a lick granuloma on her right front leg, the vet is attending to this.  Other than that, all is well.  Our guests do not see them much but when they do they are always appreciated.


lions resting
Achee in front and Ma Juah at the back, both looking good. Achee just wanted to enjoy her afternoon nap and I could see I was bothering them so I quickly snapped this picture and went on my way.

Lastly I think I should tell you about my day that I spend with Christine, our education officer, and the school kids that came to take part in an education programme, and what a day it was.

At the moment we are filling in where we can help, with the education team helping animal care, and vice versa, as we have lost some staff members , but the jobs have to continue.

So I went to pick up some of the kids at the school with the lorry and drove them back to the reserve and Vuyo Busakwe, who used to work with us looking after the cats, but is now a ranger on Shamwari,  working at one of the premium lodges, and he came to assist with the game drive.  I went with him and what a fantastic time I had with him. The teacher cried as she had never experienced what she was seeing.  Vuyo, he was so informative and the kids really enjoyed their time with him, he showed us so much out there, I really had forgotten how Shamwari is doing its magic on everyone, indeed it is a place of harmony for the animals.

So will share some of my pictures with you that were taken on the game drive.

Vuyo, cheerful as always, and he is still wearing his BFF wrist band with pride!
One of the very big bulls on the reserve and the big boy was in musth, but still went about doing his own thing
Then the herd all went for a swim in the Bushman’s River as it was a very warm day and we were so lucky to see them. This is the point where the teacher started to cry as she had never been so close to elephants before, and never seen them swim. Some of the ellies were completely submerged and you could only see their trunks sticking out like little straws.
Springbokke!!! (Note – Glen is a rugby fan!)

Jean Byrd Centre Diary

Catch up with the latest on Shada, Kuma and the other big cats at the Jean Byrd Centre here >

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

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