Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Big Cat Diary Julie Ward Centre

Glen Vena Blog March 2013

Dear friends, hope all is well with you all.   Winter is on its way, it’s going to be a cold one, I can feel it (my little toe is telling me hehehe).

I’m starting my blog on a very high note this month as I’m a very happy chap... Yes sir, yes indeed!  I have a much-needed new lap top.

One morning a little while back, I came in to the office to start my morning and received an e-mail from Maureen Adamson, a dear friend and BFF supporter. We go a very long way back as Maureen and her late husband George were introduced to me by Tim Parratt who used to run the BFF project in the very early days here at Shamwari. Maureen informed us that some of her dear friends will be visiting Shamwari very soon and asked if we could show Romy and Steve Hinde around our sanctuary.  I did so and what a pleasure it was. 

Here is a picture of me, a very happy me, with the brand new lap top donated by Romy and Steve.

Sad in a way that I have to go on leave on the 27th March. I will be missing out on many  interesting things happening at work. Sidney ‘has my back’ as we say and Martin and Headman are there to assist him in all the tasks that he will be tackling with the Shamwari Conservation Experience students coming soon. They will be assisting in building a jungle gym for our cats, and sanding and varnishing our viewing platform.  So it is going to be full on and very busy, so rather sad I’m missing out on all the activity.  Hopefully Sidney will leave some for me to share in when I get back! 


All are well and they look great.  I think we’ll be seeing more of them with the change of season. Man this summer has been hot, I welcome you autumn!  Already  the cats are more active and more visible with the cooler days, and that is great! 

Sirius, rehomed from Monaco Zoo in January 2008

He is looking very much at home – when we see him.  As you all know he is a very private animal.  Most mornings when doing my checks and fence patrol I am very lucky to see him most of the time. He does not accompany me though, like the triplets. He will look at me through the bushes and move his tail side to side as if he is stalking me and he would keep his eyes on me the whole time. 

This picture is of Sirius trying to run away from me while I was trying to take his picture.  I think he is looking very well and handsome, by the way.  He doesn’t look his nearly 22 years. It is so good to see how the cats can be transformed when they are here with us. 

Sinbad, rescued from Bacau Zoo in Romania in 2007

Whoop! What a man he is, he looks fantastic.

He has been very vocal these past few weeks.  Could be the wild lions that are roaming free on Shamwari Wildlife Reserve are not very far from our Julie Ward Centre at the moment. I’m sure they had a few conversations with each other as the roaring was very impressive, best I ever heard from Sinbad and man, he has a good roar on him. Go Sinbad, go boy! 

I thought I should share this picture with you all taken during feeding. Well you see the expression on Sinbad’s face, now you can imagine the growl!


Ma Juah, rescued from a closed-down zoo in Liberia, in July 2004, and Achee, rehomed from a Consulate in Romania in September 2004.

As you know, MJ and Achee are in the enclosure of the late Raffi and Anthea and the other day I saw Achee and Ma Juah in the exact same spot where Raffi and Anthea used to play or sit grooming each other, and just for a second I thought I was seeing Raffi and Anthea.  My eyes shot full of tears and my skin was cold and I pinched myself just to make sure I was still with the living!   I knew they were not there in the flesh but deep inside I remembered them and saw them.   They were the first lions Born Free rescued, the first Born Free lions to come to Shamwari and the first lions I ever worked with.  Their close, loving relationship changed many people’s mind-set about lions and their story lives in.   

Later that day I had to return to check on what Ma Juah and Achee were up to as I had just left them that morning without saying anything.

The girls are well and I have observed them spending more time in the middle of the camp and in the front of the camp rather than remaining hidden at the back.  Now and then they will look at Sinbad next door but there has not been much interaction between them.  So, all good!

I have shared this picture with you all before, of s tumpy-legged Achee and Ma Juah in the background.  I will have a new one for my next blog.

Leopard Triplets, Sami, Alam and Nimira.  Found motherless in Sudanese desert.  Arrived Shamwari July 2001

All well with them and Sami still claims the top spot as top cat however I think he should watch as Nimira does not take any nonsense from him.  She will put him in his place. 

Alam is still the sweetest one and always playful.  I do not want to blame him but sometime this month I had to fix a water pipe that had bitten through. For some reason I have a feeling that my boy Alam was the culprit here as he was enjoying playing in the water that was spraying all over. I did tell him that I have my eye on him. Well he just rolled on his back and gave me a big purr like sound.  Hmmmmm. 

Nimira, she is a thinker.  I will see her on her ‘jungle gym’ looking out over Shamwari.  I would love to know what she is thinking.

Nimira on her jungle gym, checking me out.

Brutus, rescued from a French circus in April 2008, and Marina rescued from Romania and arrived at Shamwari in April 2008

They are well and always together.

Took this picture of Brutus and Marina one morning when they were relaxing under some trees.  They had been shut in their separate sides of the hospital camp the day before, to stop Brutus stealing Marina’s food and this was taken just after they had been released from their overnight stay in their hospital camps.

As you can see Brutus was grooming Marina on the back of her head and now and then he would mark his territory, probably telling me to move on.  Well I did tell him that I was taken and there was no need to be so defensive!

Then he did the whole thing that wild lions do when or after they had smelled the urine of the lioness as shown her on the picture. (I think it is called “flehmen grimace”)

After that he took a proud walk around and he went to sit down as in this picture, looking very proud.

To find out the latest from Shada, Kuma and the other big cats at the Jean Byrd centre, visit their March Diary here

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