Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

December 2007

 (Glen)

 

Weather – between 30 – 35 deg C.  On some days you feel like wilting.

Jean Byrd Centre

Kuma

He is fine, and although I don’t see him as much since his move to the Jean Byrd Centre, he still knows me.  He purrs when I do the fence patrol and he will follow me for a short distance and will stop. When he stops it would be under a quarry tree, just to cool down and then he would lie on his belly. After a few seconds he would lay his head down and start to roll around as if his back is itchy. He then would be making those purring like sounds a bit louder then a kitty cat at home.   Food, this he still loves and never wastes it. When there are no people around and I’m not watching he takes his food onto his jungle gym and eats there.  He is good.

As Bongani has also noted, Kuma spends a fair amount of time at the top of his enclosure looking at Shada, and she looking back at him.  However, neither of us have noticed any aggression between them.

Shada

She is a big girl, not fat, just big-boned, and she takes no nonsense.  On Monday I managed to rescue a leopard tortoise that managed to get in her camp (or had accidentally been fenced in her camp while it was being built).   This leopard tortoise was big and she was not happy to see it on her turf. Just like in those documentaries films of TV, Shada tried her best to bite and wrestle the tortoise, at some stage the tortoise was on its back, but it was safe inside its shell or like we would say in its ‘dop’ (Afrikaans word for its shell). To get Shada in the hospital camps was going to be another story as all her attention was on the tortoise. I managed to get Bogani’s 10L bucket and I waved it at Shada and I was calling her at the same time while I was at the top of her camp near her hospital camp and the sliding gate open already. She slowly started to come up towards me and I kept on calling her and waving the bucket, maybe she thought it could be food.  It worked anyway!  Got her in and then it was safe to drive in the main camp. To my surprise when I got to the spot where the tortoise was it was not there. Well I too would be terrified if a big lioness like Shada was throwing me around and licking me! So I walked in her camp and at the same time cleaned her water trough for her. But still no sign of the tortoise. I was walking around searching, and this time I started to collect some of the bones that were there and was loading them on the bakkie I driven into the camp with.   Shada was watching me from the top carefully, her eyes following all the time.  I went towards Shada’s mini boma or shelter to get more bones out there and there was the tortoise!   Right in the corner and as soon as I touched his shell he made a big hisssssing sound that made me almost jump! Thought it was a snake somewhere!   (I knew it was a male; if you look under a tortoise and if the shell is concaved, it is male so he won’t slide off the female when mating, and if flat, it is a female.) He was a big one! Could have been in his 30’s and was about 15 - 20kg in weight.  Got him on to the bakkie and by this time the bakkie was full of bones, so I put him on the floor on the passenger side and slowly drove out. Did not want to get him all smelly, he will get more attention from the wild lions and we do not want that!

That was the highlight this week with Shada. She was happy when I finally opened up for her and she was happier when she got her food the next day.

James, Jerry and Jools – the 3 J’s

I must say while I’m up here the 3J’s are very relaxed around me. Even James who is usually so nervous is cool with me. However when I approach him he would sit still, but after a few minutes he would get up and go to the nearest bush and start to mark his turf, but no growls or sounds would come out, just the marking. Then he would join his brother where they would rub heads sitting together. Jools is fine and while I’m up here I did not see Jerry trying to mate her. Must say she does not take any nonsense from the boys. They know this. Otherwise they love to be almost at the top of the camp under some bushes keeping cool in this heat. When they are by the fence they would be looking for Shada. Jools will show lots of aggression, snarling and her tail lashing side to side when she sees Shada. James and Jerry seem not to mind her and look interested, but I cannot confirm as the boys love their mum to bits and would not go against her.  During feeding all was okay and for the first time James took the food second portion of food after Jools had taken hers, instead of letting Jerry go next.  It was comfortable with us being there. I wish Bongani was here to see this happening.

JULIE WARD CENTRE

Sinbad

This lion is so sweet, I just want to give him a big hug and I’m getting really attached to him. Trying not to do this, but he just grows on you. Just like Achee. He is so good and he starting to gain weight now after almost four months of being here.  During feeding he was so funny: it was Den and I doing the feeding. He did not hear us coming with the colt bakkie as it is so quiet (petrol engine) and the Land Rover you can hear it miles away! So we started to call him and we did it together. He appeared from a bush and he seemed to be a bit lost as if he had just woken up.  Looking around and smelling the air and the first thing he did was to look at the area where the guests would stand. So we called him again and this time he saw us. He did not walk towards us he ran! And at one stage his front paw caught in his beautiful mane and he stumbled, rolling towards us, but managed to get up again, I’m sure he said in his mind ‘cats do not fall or trip it is just that they got me off guard’! Ja, you wish, hey Sinbad! Den was mumbling something to him that made make a meowing sound and he started to smell the meat, this was too much for him. So Den started to give him a bit of liver and this he just grabbed with his mouth and it was in his tummy. Next was the ostrich leg. This was all new to him, he paused for a second as this taste was new.  He dropped the leg he had just grabbed and his tongue went in and out, in and out. He put his nose on it and smelt it and then, just like Kuma, he started to roll on his food. He did this for about a minute and stopped and grabbed the food and ran to his mini boma and started to eat. This was funny and the first time seeing Sinbad showing a bit of lion like behaviour, just like James, indeed a week of surprises.

 

Ma Juah and Achee

These two girls are very well and enjoy each other’s company. Den reported to me that he does see Achee and MJ by Sinbad’s fence looking for him. Den also said that he does not see them when he is with guests most of the time, but yes during the fence patrols. During feeding MJ and Achee were much exited and we fed them in the main camp.  We took the meat in while they were in the hospital camp. Once we were out of the camp, MJ excitedly walked up and down the gateway and as soon as it was opened she was first in to get her food, then Achee. They sat together eating for a while. Then MJ took her food deeper in to the bushes where we could not see her, but Achee remained here with us and she was enjoying the food all the way. 

Sami, Alam & Nimira – the triplets

These leopards they never fail to amuse me. Just the other day I told them that we have new leopard arrivals coming in 2008, not sure they understood! But they were meowing a lot and that was a sign that they wanted food but that was the Sunday I saw them, and feeding was not until Tuesday. They still had plenty of reserves to keep them going! Tuesday came and tell you what, they were all over that enclosure and not like Sinbad that did not hear the colt bakkie coming.  They certainly heard it and the first thing they did was to send out a scout to see if it was food or just a bakkie that was passing by the centre and the scout was Alam and as we were driving up you could see Nimira and Sami and Alam were still on one of the jungle gyms looking out. The feeding started with MJ and Achee then the triplets. By the time we got to them, all you could hear is them meowing and growling as they competed to be first and poor Alam just watched them from a distance, till they were done and then he came afterwards to get his food and Alam ran to wards the nearest bush to hide his portion and comeback for more. Den was standing there and saying to me, ‘Did you see that Glen?!’ with amusement in his voice.

Alsan & Stella

Lately they have been keeping to themselves and are not seen as much, reports Den. During fence patrols he would see them sleeping and with instructions from me to throw a small stone near the bush they are sleeping in just to see if they are still alive as they do not even lift their heads up when you call them, says Den. At one stage I thought that Alsan was deaf, but why Stella too ignoring you when you call? When it is feeding time they are all active and ready to rumble you will not believe it. When you feed them you must be quick, they do not like to be kept waiting too long otherwise you will be fixing fences the whole week. So they just take their food and go into the bushes. We have to do our observations fast to see if they are well or not.   Sidney, our education officer, had a teachers group to visit the other day.  They didn’t see Aslan, but they certainly heard him, roaring from the back of the enclosure.

 

 

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


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