Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Julie Ward Centre Diary

Shamwari from the leopards' deck
View of Shamwari from the leopard triplets' deck looking in a north easterly direction.. very little water in Bushman’s River.

March 2011 - by Glen Vena


This month things are better then before, we did get rains so the reserve looks a bit greener, however the river did not come down far enough so fingers crossed for more.

VIP visitors

We had Sir Stirling Moss OBE visiting our centre this month and Sidney was the lucky man to take him and Lady Moss, his wife, around.  As a little boy I remember hearing of him but never imagined I would meet him one day.

Stirling Moss at Shamwari
There we are, myself on the left, with Sir Stirling Moss and Lady Moss, and Sidney in the middle. The picture was taken by ranger Frans from Eagles Crag lodge on Shamwari where our VIP guests were staying.

The students from the World Wide Experience programme on Shamwari were lovely; I had this group of 18 that came at once to visit the Julie Ward Centre and to see the cats at the same time.

Young people with great hearts, they helped me and Sidney to remove bones in triplets’ camp, clean water troughs, helped to chop some branches growing towards the electric fencing – all this help was really needed.

See picture below and try to spot Sidney between all of them, we had a really good time. They loved doing it as it was an experience of a life time they said.  Makes you think hey! As for us it is just part of our duties to do this, eish!!

WWE students
(©Glen.Vena) took this with my mobile phone and we just finished doing the work in the camp and they all going sharp sharp, just look at their thumbs! (This means all good, nice, great stuff)

I also had a very old friend who comes to BFF every year: a very large leopard tortoise.  She was trying to get into the sanctuary side but gates where closed, I took her away from the centre and drove towards Bushman’s River Lodge and left her there safely. 

To my surprise I saw her three days afterwards inside our sanctuary area while I was walking with guests.  How she got in, only she knows, but she is safe in here as long as she does not find her way into the leopards enclosure as they will sort her out.   I’m sure she wants to nest or maybe she wants to hibernate here, good luck girl I will be keeping an eye on you.

See picture below, O! I’m going to call her Lucy if I may.

©Glen.Vena - BFF. Lucy the tortoise
Lucy desperately wanting to go in to the big cat enclosures side of the Julie Ward Centre. Initially I took her away on the BFF Land Rover, for her safety.
©Glen.Vena - BFF. Lucy the tortoise
Lucy inside the walls of JW, she alone knows how she got in and I’m sure it is same tortoise.
WWE group donation
The WWE group with their very generous donation of a TV and DVD player for our education centre and two portable CD players for the Sandisulwazi library

Well we had another group from the USA and they are called the US TBB (Travelling Beyond Borders), awesome kids too, they come over here on a yearly basis and they are hosted by WWISA in conjunction with WWE. 

Last year they donated some small cameras to the education department, this year they went in big, supporting the Education department – see picture above – with items that Christine, in our Education Department, really needs for the education work she is doing in the surrounding communities.  From my side I’m very excited for the library that Christine is starting in Paterson.  If you want to learn more about this initiative please read the education blog. Great stuff!

Well that is all general updating, I’m sure you all want to hear about the cats, so here we go.


He is doing well, we only tend to see him at feed times and on some fence patrols and we would love to see more of him but he loves his privacy and I respect that!   However I need to see him and make sure he is okay, as anything could go wrong and this really hurt us if we knew we could have prevented something or helped in time, so this is always in our minds.

One morning I saw him sleeping under a tree and I did a small recording of him, he looked good, just not sure how I can share it with you all as it is a bit big and we limited on the size of the files we can send over the internet.

Sirius in the bushes, this is that morning during my fence patrol when I did the recording, he looks good.


All good with him, loves his food, always hungry if I may say this with out offending him, haha also very protective over his food he would growl and cover it with his paws and on some occasions he would roll on it.  He gets vocal during the day these days and I have been seeing some fresh spoor around his side of the camp close to Ma Juah and Achee. Maybe he has been spending some time with the girls, cannot confirm I just saw spoor not him there physically.

Guests love him to bits, most UK guests who come to the Centre, always ask about him first, well sometimes they will see him and some will leave a bit disappointed but knowing he has the best care and the best natural enclosure ever that could bring him the closest to the bush/wild where animals such as birds, lizards and maybe snakes visit his enclosure.  He has adapted very well to all of this, hmm indeed he is the man! Almost four years with us he is doing very well. I must say, seeing him from when he came here to how he is now, well, we have come a long way. Thanks to you all out there who believe in us and enable us to do what we can, thumbs up!

Triplets: - Sami, Alam and Nimira

They are really well and they look great. During tours guests are more likely to see them then the other cats.  When the students came over to help us with cleaning their camp, the triplets were very well behaved, shut in their hospital camp.

Sami is still a bit of a bully other than that when there is no food around he is the kindest cat ever can be, you will see him grooming Alam or Nimira, he can be a real big brother sometimes.

Alam, he is a cat from a different world, he loves to play even during feeding – well cats are playful animals aren’t they? He would be so relaxed like ‘whatz-up dude?’’ as if he is high on something. Always chilled and relaxed and will walk away from fights with Sami. He can be difficult sometimes if he gets tired; I have noticed that.

Well Nimira, I like her, she has a special spot in my heart, she is always busy, stalking mice - if not on her jungle gym looking out at the open areas on Shamwari.  Sometimes I would think to myself what is going on in her head, because you would see she is far away with her mind, in a very deep thought. Don’t mess with her then, she will throw everything at you.  Ja, Sami knows this too!

Aslan & Stella

They are beautiful, Aslan is a bit calmer, however I never let my guard down he can be very sneaky.  The whole charging-at-the-fence thing I wish he could consider stopping it, as he scares the hell out of me and he could hurt himself seriously,  He must realise he is getting old now.  We are still keeping an eye on both of them and it looks like they are enjoying the attention.

Stella - during feeding she is still a bit nervous when in the hospital camp, as they associate the hospital camp with the vet’s visit, and she will pace nervously.   We try to feed in the hospital camp, so they have nice associations with it, and it is a way of getting them somewhere where they can be easily darted if necessary.  However as soon as you leave the hospital camp area, she will be calm and would start eating her food or go into the indoor quarters. Normally I leave them in their hosp camps, separated from each other to make sure they eat their own food that is allocated to them. So the next morning I would open up for them. I always start with Stella and she would run out of the hosp camp as fast as she can and go to a tree not far from Aslan and wait for him.

He, Aslan will be full of himself, he would roar a few times and would want to go to Stella’s side to see what she had left behind, he takes his time. Man, sometimes I just count to ten before I say anything to him, once out he would follow Stella and disappear into the bushes just like that.

This is when they've done eating their food. They sleep like this, side by side
Stella just after leaving the hospital camp
This is just too give you all an idea how we see them most of the times, Stella left the hosp camp and I opened for Aslan and he went to join her under the tree in the main camp.

Ma Juah and Achee

The girls are doing very well, they too look great, love their food, they do spend most of their time at the back of their enclosure. Achee can be a bit naughty as sometimes she wants to take MJ’s food, not sure what’s up with that.  So, I have been shutting one or other of them in the hospital camp, to make sure they get all their own portion  Other than that all seems to be in order.

The Jean Byrd Centre Diary

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

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