Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Julie Ward Centre May Diary pt 2

The weather here has been great; it is hard to believe we are almost in our winter here. The temperatures have been around 22º C and 27ºC. This is lovely for the cats as they will adjust themselves slowly to all these changes. For all our new arrivals they are still enjoying it all the way.

Credit: Virginia Lundin
Sinbad - the mystery roarer!


He seems to be great from what I see, I would love to see what he is thinking or feeling.

He loves his food and never leaves any thing for the ants to nibble on! I am feeding him twice a week and he gets about 4.5kg of pure meat and if the portion has bone in it, it weights around 7.2kg. This he loves. He would just wrap his mouth around his chunk of meat, as his canines are worn down, so he can’t grab it normally, then he would let go of it in mid air and he would lick his lips with his long tongue.  Finally he would pick it up and walk away with it to his favorite eating spot and this is not far from the mini boma shelter. However he is so well hidden there, you will only see his mane sticking out.

Guests see him often and they love him. He is also very relaxed around people and never gets stressed, but the best part of our sanctuary is that when our rescued cats have enough of people they can go, they have so much green around them and when they have enough of us they just go anywhere in their big enclosures and disappear.

Best part with Sinbad and this I still cannot believe: Sinbad is seriously roaring. I realize I have been hearing him for a while now and I always though it was the Shamwari wild lions that where close by.  This is because Ma Juah would always join in and so their loud roaring together sounded like the wild lions close to our perimeter fence. On this occasion I was doing my fence patrols and I hear this loud roaring of a lion, but this was coming from inside the sanctuary side and for a moment I thought the wild lions were inside!  I was ready for anything at this stage.

I walking slowly and tried not to step on any branches that would break and alert the lions that that I thought were inside. To my surprise! I saw Sinbad busy marking his territory and he started to roar again and I could hear MJ too, then Aslan started too. I was not convinced so I kept on checking the area and thought to myself: how come  the fence alarm didn’t go off - how did these lions come in?  I was saying this over and over in my head while I was walking around the camp. I only stopped when I saw my own spoor as I was going to walk around Sinbad’s camp for the second time, trying to see or find these lions that were supposedly inside and that were roaring at poor Sinbad. He just stood there looking at me with no worries and looking very impressed with himself, then he started again! It was a beautiful roar that came out, a nice deep one. It was not as good as old Aslan’s though!  You could see Sinbad was out of practice. I was totally off my feet with him.

He still keeps to himself. Whenever I do not have guests I will go and sit with him but these day it is a bit difficult to do with all the cats that we have. I try to give them all the same attention. It is nice to work with people like Den and Bongani that are also passionate about the animals as I am, and will make time to be with them.

Pitou and Sirius:  

Pitou is totally relaxed around us. While Sirius, on the other hand, is totally on his nerves when seeing people and would just run away. This is a bit sad as he has been here since the 9th January and has not yet come to trust us that look after him, ag, only time will make it right.

I have started to feed them both inside their hospital camp as I want them to relax and get used to it. Well Pitou has no problems with this and she goes in and out of the hospital camp and even will take her food in there and eat, she is okay with this. But tell me about the brother! He is totally nervous and will grab his food and run back towards the area he loves to be away from us or where he can’t be seen, but working on this, very slowly at his own pace!

Generally around people Pitou is fine, but I always respect her and see her as a wild leopard and will never underestimate her or what she is capable of.  Guests also see her and love her, but they always ask: “why she’s so much smaller then Nimira.” Well I always say: “First we are not sure about her background – from which genetic background she is  and secondly it could be years and years of in-breeding in captivity “   Otherwise she is healthy and looks normal to me and has that cat like behavior: I rule you and you can never own me! You know what I’m trying to say - a dog you can maybe own but even your domestic cat ….haaaa good luck !

Today 20th May, Jacko one of the Student co-coordinators came with this rabbit that he picked up by the side of the road – this is now the public road that runs through Shamwari. Some idiot was probably speeding last night and hit and never bothered to stop.  Anyway he gave it to me and said please Glen do not let it go to waste,

I was done with all the guests and done with all the fence checks, so I went to Pitou and called her. She came out after two or so minutes to see what the fuss was all about and why was I making a noise. She looked at me, gave a few growls and sniffed the air and I’m sure she could smell what I had in my hand.  I threw the rabbit over the fence and it fell next to her. She jumped away at first probably thinking it was something that was going to hurt her. She then walked to it as fast as she could and sniffed it. Then she did what I thought only the leopard triplets or Kuma would do - she grabbed the rabbit by the neck very hard as if she was killing it and shook it around and then she dropped it. I was lost for words. She started to lick the rabbit with her ruff tongue and all the hair came off, you could see she was enjoying every minute of it. She was giving those purr like sounds while she was doing it and all the time there was not sign of Sirius. She then picked the rabbit up and walked away with it.  I’m not sure if she went to join up with Sirius. While she was away I did hear any growls, so I’m sure she was enjoying it alone. Well this was a highlight for me since they have been here.

Achee and Ma Juah

The girls are well and looking great and so far all is well.  Achee, she is spending more and more time next to the fence looking at Sinbad or Sinbad at them. But like I always say Ma Juah is a bit protective over Achee.  She will be in the back ground looking at them and she would be growling and showing her canines at poor Sinbad. Sinbad he is so playful, he is just not interested in being aggressive; maybe he just wants to be their companions. However Achee is good in keeping the peace and she would walk away with MJ to the back of the enclosure and they would disappear into the thickets.

When guest get to see them it is always an emotional time for the guests. They feel so sad at the wobbling caused by their poor diet in their previous homes, especially for MJ.   However guests also say it is the second best they could ever have, best would be to roam at Shamwari, but they look happy here at our sanctuary and look very well.

During feeding times it is always fun to see them tackling their food full on and these girls are not shy!

When Dan and I do the fence patrols they sometimes walk with us all the way around the camp and even drink water while we are there with them, MJ would then try to push Achee around by using her head, but Achee would put a stop to this by giving a loud growl that would even make Dan and I jump.

Credit: BFF / Shamwari
Ma Juah

Triplets – Sami, Alam and Nimira

These three leopards are always in the mood to be mischievous and guests love them to bits!

During feeding time they always out and never late, they would follow the BFF Land Rover with their eyes as it is delivering food to Sinbad, Pitou and Sirius. By the time the landie gets to them they are always very exited!

I always start to feed with Sami and he would get his food in the hospital camp to stop him stealing little brother Alam’s food.

He does not like this arrangement that I have with him, but we have to make it work and it does work.

During feeding I do not even have to call him to the feeding area in the hospital camp I always find him there, waiting for me to give his food to him.

However what I also do so that he does not get too used to this routine, I would feed him in the main camp but in the north eastern side of his enclosure and Alam and Nimira in the south western side of the main camp and it works too they, it stops them getting to each others food, they would just disappear into the bush with their own portion.

Dan always tells me when he comes back from a fence patrol with the leopards that he has had good fun and that they always make him laugh. The other day Dan is fresh back from leave on the 26th so he went to see them and spent time with all the cats as he had not seen them for three weeks. He told me that Alma and Nimira were busy wrestling each other and Alam was trying to get away from Nimira, but he was not looking where he was going – so not leopard like! He ran into an aloe plant and his strength just bulldozed the poor plant and both Alam and the aloe fell into the water trough.  Poor Alam did not like the sudden water on his fur and he was jumping around in the water! He finally managed to jump out.

Credit: Virginia Lundin
Sami has to be fed separately to stop him stealing his siblings' portions.

Aslan and Stella

They are very well even though, in years, both of them are getting seriously old. Aslan is turning 19 and Stella too! But don’t let the age fool you, they are as naughty as the triplets that are eight years old. Full of energy!  And don’t forget Aslan’s temper - on some occasions he can be a handful.

Guests also see them only on some occasions as they love their privacy. On the odd day that Aslan would show his face to the guests, he will always make them jump. He would give this big roar or shall I say it is more like a very big bark at the guests to say; ‘what are you doing in my territory!’  Then you can sense the satisfaction in him as he walks by, that he got them all to jump!

Credit: Glen Vena / BFF / Shamwari
Caption – Aslan and Stella
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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