Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Big Cat Diary May 2016

Jean Byrd Centre Blog
May 2016
Written by Headman Matyumza and Kelvin Buys, Animal Care Assistants

The team at Shamwari

Shamwari Conservation Experience volunteers

Hello everyone, warm greetings from us and from the cats. We all are doing great. 

It’s been a quiet month for us here at the Jean Byrd Centre. We had few visitors coming in.  If we do not have guests we do a lot of work like gardening, and there is also the usual work of changing the water in the water troughs and picking up the bones and faeces inside the hospital camps and main enclosures, and sometimes during the week we drive down to the Julie Ward Centre to assist the guys with preparing the meat and cleaning.

Twenty students from SCE visited to get more information on what BFF is all about. Megan [Vet nurse] came with Catherine to check up on our cats and Dr Johan was also here just to check up on the cats.

Then we received more very lovely students from SCE (Wildlife). Most of them didn’t know what the Born Free Foundation is doing, so it was our platform to explain and answer the questions.

Kelvin and a bucket of lion faeces – lovely!



Shada is doing very well and we see her more often at the bottom right corner of her main enclosure staring at the wild animals grazing close to the perimeter fence, sometimes stalking her neighbors especially Jora. What we notice this season is that she likes to move up and down by the bottom fence line, after that she will run fast towards her shelter; maybe she’s making herself warm, it’s cold now here. The big girl is very calm even to our visitors she is not grumpy and they love her very much, they will say “she’s big”. 

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

Kuma is looking a bit of an old gentleman these days (Kuma will be 20 years old in July.  He is keen for his food, but he struggles a bit to eat it, perhaps because his teeth are worn and broken.   We notice too he is limping a bit when he is walking.  According to Dr Johan he said it might be arthritis so he will give him treatment, then we will see from there. Kuma is still using the main camp a lot, sometimes you will see him at the bottom section and later he moves up to his favorite spot behind the hospital camp. 


Jora and Black are doing brilliantly well and taking their food very well. The boys now are always at the top of their enclosures in the shelter of the bushes,  especially in the morning. We think it’s because of the weather and during the early or 08h15 tour we see them in the distance. They are quite active some mornings, we will find them roaring, moving up and down then in the afternoons they will be sleeping enjoying the heat of the sun. They still love each other, always together, it is impossible to see them apart because of the bond that they have.

We have noticed Black’s mane is growing, and it is getting  more black and it looks beautiful, even the guests they will say how beautiful his mane is.  Jora’s mane is still the same to us we don’t see any difference at the moment. 

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

They are doing excellently and taking their food very well, eating it all.  Mother and daughter they like to check each other out in their adjacent enclosures. Leda is using her main enclosure more often than the hospital camp.  During the fence check we see her behind the shelter close to the main gate, we think it’s because there are nice bushes there that block the wind and the sun shines nicely there. The guests they don’t see her much now; but if she wants to be seen she will come out.

Rhea is using both enclosures but on cold days you won’t see her, she will be in the main camp hiding in the bushes there. The guests who visit us here sometimes only see her from a distance on top of her shelter in the main camp.  

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

Share | |