Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Big Cat Diary March 2016

Jean Byrd Centre Blog 

March 2016

Written by Headman Matyumza and Kelvin Buys


SHADA, rescued from a French circus.  

Arrived Shamwari November 2006.

The big lady is still doing very well and she is taking her food very well. .

We often see her now by the bottom of the fence line close to the release gate, especially in the morning. What I notice now is that she is not using the top section that much; she is back to her favourite spot in the bottom section. 

Sometimes we try spray her with Frontline to kill the ticks but she keeps running. 

At feeding time she eats her food as normal and eats it all.  Guys as you know, she is selective with food.  We did try her with a piece of liver but she didn’t eat it. 

Reaction between her and the boys is still the same: she likes to stalk Jora. She is always minding her own business.  Even if we do the fence check in the morning she won’t give us her attention and even with guests, she just looks at us then goes back to sleep if she was sleeping.   If the boys are roaring next to her she will respond with a loud voice. She is strong!


JORA and BLACK, rehomed from a closed-down circus in Bulgaria.  Arrived Shamwari September 2015

The brothers are doing very well. We still separate them during feeding time and we are still monitoring them, just to check their movements and what are they doing during each day. They love to play together especially in the main camp by the bottom section.

Jora - he is very active and he loves an audience! If he is at the top of the camp, the moment he sees people he will come down just to greet us. 

Black - he is not active like Jora,  he loves to sleep but the moment he sees Jora is doing something,  for example if Jora is going to drink water, he will stand up and follow Jora all the way to the water trough. I have never seen Black stalking Shada or Kuma, that boy is always minding his own business. 

I have also never seen Jora and Black sleeping apart or one sitting far from the other, they are always together. To me it seems they are very happy here. Feeding time –Jora will run in front of our Defender and stop at the main gate and then wait for his meal to be delivered to the hospital camp, while Black follows him all the way.  They know their feeding spot. All good.

Jora and Black

KUMA, rescued from Abidjan Zoo, Ivory Coast.  Arrived Shamwari March 1999

Kuma is doing great and taking his food very well. He still spends most of his time at the top of his camp in the denser bush. He loves to give visitors his attention if he sees us on the viewing deck. If he wants to come down, he comes; if he doesn’t want to come he stays on top. 

Feeding time we make sure his food is prepared to assist him to eat as his teeth are worn down but sometimes we give him a meat with soft bone for calcium. 

The boy is still strong, I saw him during my fence patrol he was sharpening his claws on the dead tree close to the hospital camp. He doesn’t give us any concerns for his health despite being 20 years old.  


Leda and her daughter Rhea.  Rescued from Limassol Zoo in Cyprus.  Arrived Shamwari June 2009.

The girls are doing excellently. Leda likes to chill on top of her platform in the afternoons. At feeding times she takes time to eat her food. She will lick the meat first then later take it to her eating spot.  Leda she is showing herself more often now and she doesn’t hide herself when she sees the visitors. 

Rhea likes to chill on top of her ‘kennel’ lying on her back there waiting for her food.  Feeding time: she always gets excited to receive her food and she doesn’t waste any time, she immediately takes her food into the main camp and enjoys her meat there. 



We were very lucky this month to be visited by students from the UK; we felt honored. They were brought here by the Shamwari Conservation Experience Coordinators to get information about what the Born Free Foundation is all about. They were very excited see to see the Born Free Centre at ‘Jean Byrd’  as they had heard about Born Free in the past from their parents. And just to say that they asked the most pertinent questions.

Students from the UK

Then we were visited by a very important young girl called Caitlin who was so full of life and loves nature very much. Caitlin saved up a year’s pocket money and donated it to Born Free.  She was given homework by Virginia and we provided her with all the information she needed.

Caitlin and Kuma

Later in the month we were also visited by our old friend, Wonga the elephant bull who was here last year in September. He destroyed all the aloes in the front and at the back of the Centre. He left us with a lot of clearing up to do. The fencing team came here for the fourth time to fix the pole in the entrance gate and the gate going to our enclosures. What they did is to put in a new energizer and that has seemed to help for now.  Never a dull moment!he information she needed.

Aloes after a visit from Wonga

The Shamwari fencing crew planting a new pole at the entrance to the Jean Byrd Centre after the elephant had snapped it in half to get to his favourite aloes! needed.

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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