Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Report from Julie Ward Centre

photo glen vena/bff

by Glen Vena
week ending 4.11.07


This week has been a hot one, temperature was between 25ºC and 32ºC and later in the afternoons we would have rain and lots of lightning.   Sinbad seems not to mind this weather and he is doing well.

We see him most of the times when we have guests.  He is very relaxed in front of the guests and will just sit there and look at us and after a few seconds he would lay down on his belly grooming himself.

He is still looking at Achee and Ma Juah and at this stage I do not see any aggression from any of them.

We had the MD of Land Rover and his family visiting Sinbad.  His family loved seeing Sinbad and they were very touched.

Clive Nation also visited and I was about to give Sinbad his food, so they came to watch and Sinbad was all over the food, he was enjoying it so much he totally forgot there were strangers around him and he was making these purring sounds as he was eating.

By the time Will Carling arrived with his family all was done and Sinbad was taking a siesta with his one paw on the water trough and he was only moving his head to look at us.  This showed off his beautiful mane and these days nearly all the guests remark on this when they see him.

Otherwise when we feed he is always around and just like the other cats he knows that when he hears the Land Rover there will be something for him.

Ma Juah and Achee

When it is hot they are never around, these two girls. They will keep cool at the back of the enclosure.  In fact, most of the time when we take guests up they are never around, or we would just get a glimpse of Achee when she walks away from the corner fence by Sinbad’s enclosure and goes off to join up with MJ.

During my fence patrols they will still walk with me and when they see Sinbad they stop and show interest. If I start to walk they will follow.

I have a feeling that Achee is stealing MJ’s food, so now I separate them when I feed, Achee in the main camp and MJ in the hospital camp. If they have been given big portions, they will be separated for two days till they are done with the food, but if it was those (12Kg after 4days) smaller portions it would just be for the evening. They do not mind this and look very happy when they get to each other and they rub heads against each other and Achee would hold MJ’s tail in her mouth gently for a few seconds, then they and walk away to each other’s eating spots to see who left what for whom.

Triplets – Sami, Alam and Nimira

When hot none of them will be out! Forget it! Even during fence patrols none of them will be out! Guests do not see them! I only see them at 1630hrs and they will be playing with each other and drinking water.

During feeding they will be out as I do this around 1430hrs, it is still hot but they will come for the food. Sami will always take first his then Nimira and Alam last. Then they would walk away with the food and disappear in the bushes.

Just as I start the Land Rover they would come running to the fence wanting more, they think they are clever.  I have worked them out by now and know their ways, no more soft spots and no more extra bits as I need to get their weight down.  As I drive off then Sami would go to Nimira’s food, Nimira to Sami’s and Alam keeps his.

Aslan and Stella

They were out and very relaxed when the Carling family arrived, and they showed no aggression even though there was kids around.

We never see them with guests on the viewing decks when it is hot although Aslan is vocal in the evenings. Sometime I will get guests from Riverdene Lodge saying they heard him roar and it was amazing.  (The rangers will have identified Aslan’s roar as he has a louder roar then the younger Shamwari lions, and since Raffi has gone Aslan is the top cat in roaring. Raffi use to have this deep roar that could make you shiver inside and it was very, very loud and guests at Long Lee Manor would hear as well and that is further off than Riverdene lodge.  Well he was the King and returned to claim what was his. R.I.P. Raffi.

week ending 11.11.07


With all the VIP’s gone this week, the routine it back to normal.

Well it is very hot though, temperature runs at 32ºC Sinbad would normally be out in hot weather but even he is hiding in the shade and not checking out the girls.

He is in that area where he was first released in to the main camp, where there is that big Spekboom and Scotia Afra tree, he was there and right in the middle of it. I could not even get a picture of him there.

Bongani was off on Tuesday and that is when I did the feeding and Den, our new animal care assistant helped me with it. And Sinbad was not even in the mood to come and get his food.

I fed around 1300hrs as I never feed at the same time of day. It was still hot. So I took the food to him and he was very happy with this. He dragged the food to a cool spot and he then walked down the slope with us back to our vehicle that is where he had a good drink of water before he made his way back to where he had left his food, then he started the feast. By the way the school kids did not see him either. It is just the weather.

Ma Juah and Achee

Funny, the girls were out and unusually this week we only saw them. It looks like they wanted to see Sinbad, but he had other plans. Keeping cool and enjoying his meal!

The girls look great and I still separated them when I fed, just to make sure each gets their share. Till I’m sure that Achee does not take MJ’s food.

Oh! Sarah Skinner, Born Free supporter arrived here this week to start the Ranger course, and she joined us while we were feeding.  This she really enjoyed as not every one gets to experience this. She too thinks Ma Juah and Achee are okay.


Sarah came with me on the tour that I do with the guests and she was very impressed, but the triplets were hiding out of the heat in the shade, and she saw that this was very difficult doing the talks when some of the guests are disappointed that they are not going to see a leopard.  Most understand that we give the cats the choice to hide away when they want to, and that they are not on show like in a zoo, but you have to explain this very tactfully.  Sarah said I explained it like a diplomat, aha!

No cats were seen.

Sarah and Den did the fence patrols and they really enjoyed it.

Aslan and Stella

They are well as we see them when we do the fence patrols, but when guests are around, neither is out!

week ending 18.11.07


Sinbad is doing really well and looks great, he loves his food and we are slowly building him up and he is starting to look a bit rounder around the waist! (We don’t want him to get too round though, hey?!) I still feed him about 5-8kg of meat and then I would skip a day, sometimes I do spoil him a bit by giving him more liver and this he loves so much.

Just the other day he saw a warthog running past his camp. He focused on it with his little eyes and followed slowly and carefully putting his back paw exactly where the front paw had been. This was so nice to see and witness it first hand. I was busy doing my fence patrol when I saw this and don’t ask me how the warthog got into the sanctuary side, but one thing I can tell you is that the warthogs can dig very well. For me it was nice to have seen this. Sinbad is starting to become very relaxed in his new home; he is also starting to make use of the trees and bushes around him. Just the other day I saw him sharpening his claws and playing with an Aloe stump rubbing his head and smelling it, while before he had just remained in his comfort zone.

The weather was not too bad. Temperatures were around 28 and 30°C. Sinbad is fine with this and seems not to have any problems with the hot weather. Most of the time when I walk around he would be under a tree relaxing, sleeping on his side or with all four paws pushed against the tree stump as if he is sharpening his claws while sleeping.  When Sinbad is asleep no can wake him up unless he hears the Born Free Land Rover coming, then he will be quick to come out and he will be on a little run as he is coming towards the fence.

Guests still see Sinbad most of the times when we do the tours and Den, our new animal care assistant, has also started to walk the guests around and the best news is that cats love him to bits too. 

Sinbad still looks for MJ and Achee and he is not aggressive at all with them when they meet by the fence line. I think he is lonely and would love to have company. However I’m not sure will he be able to share his food as he loves this and sometimes growls when you go too close to him while he is eating. Ag, we will see as time goes by.

Ma Juah and Achee 

The girls are well and still love each other’s company. Most of the time we do not see them with guests. However they will be out and about around 1630hrs looking for Sinbad. During this time we do not have guests. Just the other day we did a feed and MJ and Achee were the first to be fed and this they really loved as they will be third most of the time. I had students with me.  I gave Achee the food first and both of them actually took a bite on the portion and helped each other to take it in to the shade. Well Achee stayed with it and MJ came for the second one. MJ is looking good and stronger then ever, but she still gets those mini fits that would last for about 10 to 15 seconds. Other than that they are both well. Achee loves to be the top cat and MJ lets her be. MJ is sweet. But she still shows lots of aggression towards man even to Den that just joined the team. I think that will stay forever with her. She will never forget.  Maybe something happened to her with men, maybe men were mean to her, agh - I do not know!

These girls prefer to keep out of the sun and stay cool, well I’m like that too. When it is hot, forget it, you will not even see a tail during fence patrols and you can call as loud as you can, they will just ignore you. This just kills me as we need to see them, so that we can report if we suspect there is something wrong. So you will have Den and I walking around those camps looking for them, just to get a glimpse of them, you know, for proof they are there!

This week when I fed I left MJ and Achee together.  I suspect Achee of being a pirate! Maybe she is just a little one, but I’m going to check.


They love to be the centre of attention. Most of the time they are out and guests will see them, but when it is hot they love their beauty sleep.

Nimira is as sweet as can be and she is also one of my favourites. She doesn’t let the brothers bully her. She gets what she wants.

Aslan and Stella

They are still love birds and doing well.  They spend lots of time together. But during feeding Aslan got a bit out of control and he damaged the fence again. He was not happy at all to see a white bakkie. You see our Land Rover was in PE for repairs and we are driving a white Colt bakkie and he thinks this could be Johan or John that had come to dart him and that he does not like at all. But when he saw that it had food on board he started to relax and he also took his food with out any problems but still keeping an eye on the bakkie. However, he had damaged the fence and so we had to fix the fault but he was still being defensive..

So we had to take the bakkie down to the Centre, walk back without the hated bakkie and then fix the fence. He is so demanding sometimes. The fence is fixed and it is up and running, we will have to do one favour for Aslan and that is to get the BFF Land Rover back in time for the next feed, if we do not want any fences damaged.

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

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