Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Jean Byrd Centre Blog

November 2017

Written by Headman Matyumza and Kelvin Buys, Animal Care Assistants

Hello everyone

A warm greeting from the cats and from us at the Jean Byrd Centre.  It has been a busy month with guests of Shamwari coming almost every day.  We had a visit from Dave Higgs of the Olsen Animal Trust. Sue Olsen is a Trustee of Born Free and the Olsens are great supporters, they are very nice people and share our passion for wild animals. The Shamwari Conservation Experience students visited and helped us a lot with keeping our enclosures clean. We also had three ‘casuals’ from nearby Alicedale helping with the cleaning.  They did a great job at both our rescue centres, they really cleaned the place well. We had nice rain so everything is green again, and all our cats are enjoying the weather.   Johan, our vet, came to check on our cats and he is happy with them, he says they are looking good.


Shada – rescued from a French circus in November 2006


Shada has recovered nicely after she went off her food last month.  We now we see her eating very well. 

She is often seen sleeping next to her shelter in the main camp and will sit on top of it too, looking over the reserve.  We have noticed that she has started up her old behaviour of stalking Jora, in the adjacent camp, especially at feeding time and it’s nice for us to see her active.

Black and Jora – rescued from a circus in Bulgaria in September 2015

Black in front and Jora behind
Black in front and Jora behind

Black and Jora are doing great. The bond shared by the brothers is still unbreakable. We still separate them when we feed them and it’s so nice to see them play when we open the hospital camp for them to be in one enclosure again.

Our guests always admire them, and say they are big boys now, and that is true.  We are seeing the changes in these lions as they are filling out and developing more muscle. 

It was a mission to get one of the students away from the camp because she had fallen in love with the boys.  Apparently she is friends with one of our Born Free members who knows about Jora and Black and is very happy that she had the opportunity to see the cats here.

Queen, an ex-breeding farm lion who arrived at Shamwari in April 2015

Queen dozing
Queen dozing

Queen is often seeing lying close to our guests’ viewing deck and sometimes under the platform in her main camp.   When it is hot she usually seeks shade under a guarri tree close to her hospital camp.

She always roars in the morning and late in the afternoon and then our other lions join in. Our guests see her often, and make the usual comment that she looks like a polar bear. She eats her meat very well and is active in her main camp so it’s safe to say that she is doing fantastically well.

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


The two ladies are doing good, it’s just that it’s very hot now and we don’t see them a lot because they always keeping in the shade under the trees. 

They both eat the meat very well and that usually is the time we get to see them and sometimes when we are carrying out our fence checks in the morning.

Fortunately they were visible when Johan came he saw them and he is happy with the condition they are in.

Ciam – confiscated from a private owner in France. He arrived at Shamwari in May 2017


Finally, there is Ciam.  What is there to say about our boy?  He eats very well and this three year old youngster is growing fast.

He is growing into a big man and we always say that we are happy to be a part of the journey to see all the small changes: from the mane, the roar, to the size of his paws. And we know it will not happen overnight but we will be here when it does.

He is loved by all our guests. Two guys from Switzerland followed the rescue process on Facebook and they were so excited to see Ciam on the day they came to visit our centre.

We are noticing that Ciam no longer stalks his leopard neighbours next door, we think he is getting used to them. Sometimes when we go home we would see him looking at us from his shelter in the main camp.

The Julie Ward centre Diary (with a bit more Jean Byrd centre too)

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

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