Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Jean Byrd Centre

Week ending 8th June

Reports by Bongani Bavuma

Weather has been kind, but very cold especially in the mornings, the temperature varied between 16ºC and18ºC.

Brutus
He is doing very well.  The only bad thing is that he broke two trees in his main camp. This is when he rubs himself against them, scent-marking his territory.  He does not appreciate that it took Glen and Patrick forever to plant those trees that he is damaging now. We tried to fix and water the trees, but you need to magic to fix broken trees, especially ones that were broken by Brutus, there is nothing left of them!!
Brutus used to spend most of his time in front of the camp and on the side that is closer to the centre. He has stopped this now and he is using his whole camp, he even went up to the back where there are lots of thickets and disappeared in there. I hope he will find a nice tree there that he can bully and leave the young ones alone!

Credit Abagail McNicol / BFF / Shamwari

Sarnia and Marina
They are doing very well and always playful. They sometimes fight over their food when we feed them; they always sort their problems out though. If Marina gets the first portion she sits down with it to eat and that’s when Sarnia will come in and try and steal the meat. They will then wrestle for it and for a few seconds Marina will be the top cat, but Sarnia will not lose she will leave with a mouthful of meat. If Sarnia takes food first she will sit down and eat it and the well behaved Marina will just take hers and go with out challenging Sarnia for hers.

When it is very cold they use the shelter in their hospital camp and stand on the entrance if there are guests on there viewing deck, to get a better view of them. Last time when Kuma was darted for the yearly health checks, the guests that came at 11am did not see the cubs as they were more interested to see what was happening to Kuma.  Otherwise they are playing most of the time.

Kuma
He is mostly calm and relaxed, he likes to come to the viewing deck especially when we have lots of the guests, he would walk all the way down to us just to come and walk past the deck and walk back again, he loves to do that. The other day, after he had patrolling in front of the deck he noticed that all his toys (a skull and other bones that he usually plays with) were no longer there.  He looked around and then stood staring hard at the guests and walked away. I think he was swearing at Glen and Luthando who had removed the toys – well Kuma the camp has to be cleaned.  Most of the time Kuma will be at the back of his camp and then in the afternoon he will be on his jungle gym sun bathing. The other day I think he was trying to warm up as that morning was rather cold, he was under his jungle gym where the sun rays where and the rays were on his belly.

When we feed he acts as if he doesn’t like the food. He doesn’t grab it and run away like the other cats: he smells, circles and growls at it as if he is not happy with it, checking or trying to identify the portion of meat he has got.  After doing all the above, he would then lick it and rub against it to have the same scent on him as the food – that is a wild thing!!

Shada
She is doing really well and if she is not hidden in the undergrowth at the centre of her main enclosure, she is sitting next to or inside her hospital camp. She was nowhere to be seen on Wednesday when went with the guests to her viewing deck. She was darted on Thursday morning and this was to examine her broken canine. Johan and Murray, our vets, decided that a proper X-Ray should be taken and for her to be examined by a veterinary dentist.  Other wise she is well and looks great and she has already forgiven us for the darting.
 
Jools, James and Jerry
They look very good  and their favourite hobby is to sleep the whole day, they never do anything!  Well, Jools will try to chase Shada away from her boys if Shada gets too close to the fence. Must say sometimes she does get very cross with Shada.

The boys never fight or argue, they are cool with each other. They love mum to bits too. Murray’s implants work very well, the boys have not been trying to mate her.

One problem is that they can hear the BFF Land Rover from miles away and will be at the front of the enclosure, pacing, waiting to see if it is bringing food for them – and of course, sometimes it is not.

Report by Glen Vena

30th June 2008

Bongani is on leave until 14th July and I was lucky enough to work at the Jean Byrd Centre and spend some time with the cats.  Normally it would just be for a short while on feed days, but I was there for a full three days!

Jools, James and Jerry
They are well and the boys are still close to mum. At this stage there has been no signs that they want to mate Jools. However there is a small war starting between them and Shada. Lots of talking through the fence and running up and down the fences, wanting to get to each other and Jools is the leader and the boys are backing her up all the way, Jools would be totally focused on what she is doing just looking at Shada and Shada the same.   We are closely monitoring this situation.  
Feeding -The three J’s love their food and never waste a crumb.

Shada
Sweet as ever. She is under observation; we are keeping an eye on that broken canine. We have been giving her antibiotics twice a day in a piece of meat. This she loves and at the same time she is taking the medication well too. She is wary of us as she thinks we are going dart her again, so she is a bit jumpy.

Brutus
He is such a charmer.  I think he is totally in love with the cubs next door to him, as he has all this playful behavior when he sees them.
Where I don’t like him is that he destroyed all those trees that we planted for him! He broke them while he was scent marking his territory. He has this thing where he would lie on his back and grab the tree with his front paws and bring it to his mouth and what huge canines he has!  
He loves his food and never leaves anything behind, he loves intestines a lot too.

Did I mention that he has this huge roar on him?  I think he is even louder than Aslan.  Well, he is a lot younger too.

Credit BFF / Shamwari
Credit BFF / Shamwari
Marina

Sarnia and Marina
They have grown a lot. Sarnia is very adventurous and will stalk anything that moves. Marina is a little more timid but just like Sarnia, she too is a dare devil! 

During feeding you have to be there all the time until they have finished their food. Sarnia is very fast in eating and will be the first one to finish while Marina loves to take her time and play with the food.   This will make Sarnia very excited and try and steal her sister’s food. Well, it was good to see Marina fighting her off and keeping her food. Sarnia just dusted herself off and came to me for more.

Bongani had warned me about this behavior.  So, I made four portions of meat and each weighed about 600g.  I waited until Marina had done with hers, then I gave them the rest this and this time Sarnia was slower in eating her food and took her time and they were able to eat together about 200m from each other. Also when they start to eat they will give these growl-like sounds, they are proper lionesses I tell you!

After they finish, all will be at peace and they would come towards each other and would jump on each other as if they are hugging each other and roll in the tall grass.  They blend very well in this and almost disappear from view.  They really love each other when there is no food around!

Most of the time when they are not eating I observed them not far from the fence-lines of Brutus and Kuma, on either side of their enclosure. It looks like this is how they keep busy by trying to tease these two big cats! They also like to chase after the Hadeda ibis and Secretary birds that would land in their camp. They try their best to catch them, but these bird are too fast. Any road kills I get I like to give to them.

Kuma
He looks great and he is starting to burn that unwanted fat, he still has that flabby skin under his belly, but looks much better then four months ago.
He loves his food and he has adjusted nicely to this new feeding regime.
He spends most of his time next to the camp of the cubs, Sarnia and Marina. However, I no longer witness any aggression from him towards the cubs.

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


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