What a fun three months it has been at the Julie Ward and Jean Byrd centres here at Shamwari!

Claire Stanford from the Born Free office in the UK came to assist us in upgrading our centres with new boards displaying information about all of our cats and the recently changed Born Free logo. We even installed new televisions and soundbars so that as soon as our new busy season starts we will be ready for all the guests to watch and learn about our cats and the work we do. 

We are all very excited to meet King, the young lion coming from Natuurhulpcentrum in Belgium, who was confiscated from an apartment in France after photographs were posted on social media of someone hitting and kicking this vulnerable youngster. It is so sad to hear about such things still happening today, clearly Born Free still has a lot of work to do, and for our part here in Africa, making sure we are protecting our animals in their natural environment and safeguarding them for the next generation.

We have been busy preparing for King’s arrival, including building King a platform and shelter in his enclosure. A cordless drill is one of our most useful tools! We basically do everything with this tool. All of our team got involved, as in-between preparing for King we still need to run the centre 100%. That means we must collect and prepare food, feed the cats, host our guests and volunteers, and spend some time in the office doing admin… so we have a full-on schedule. This keeps us busy and makes me delegate work better (wink wink), however there is still so much to be done and we need all hands on deck!

Good news, Odwa, who recently joined the team, is getting up to speed with his knowledge. After Odwa has completed his assessment, he will be ready to take his place as an Animal Care Assistant and assist Headman with the day-to-day running of the Jean Byrd centre.

The sad news is that Kelvin is leaving us, he moves to the ranger’s department to further his knowledge and career. He will be a great ambassador for us and wave our Born Free flag even higher. It is not a loss that he is going to the ranger’s department but a win for us, as we will have an inside man within that team, how nice! Good luck Kelvin from all of us.



Nelson is so cool, and the most energetic lion. He is very vocal – his roar will be heard for miles across the Shamwari valleys, and the rangers have confirmed this. He has the cute face, great looking mane and a huge appetite! His wild instincts often show during feeding, he becomes quite intimidating as his wild nature comes out! Then, when he has finished eating, his cute face returns and he is the sweetest cat ever.



These two boys are looking good and seem very content. I have noted that both boys are starting to use their jungle gym more often. This could be due to the cooler weather conditions we are having. In the warmer weather, the boys would spend more time under the trees and enjoying the shade. Maybe our visitors and school groups will see them more often now, fingers crossed.



Sinbad and Achee are doing very well, they are always together. They are so good with each other. When I was watching them the other day, Achee started to roll on her back and stretched her front paws out and gave a big yawn and Sinbad did the same. Then they both got up, at the same time, and had a drink of water before going for a wonder through their enclosure. 

I was taking a picture of Sinbad and Achee, I wanted to get both of them in the photo, but Achee pushed Sinbad out of the way. She came to sit in front of me and looked at me, (see photo), then she gave me a big yawn and rested her head on her big paws.



All is well with Brutus and Marina, they are thriving here and look really good. They are so gentle with each other. Marina is always on her toes, any movement she hears or anything that moves she will have her nose and big ears locate it as soon as she can.



Ah these three are so sweet! Each morning we see them relaxing towards the front of their enclosure, trying to get the most of the winter sun on their cute lion faces. They are a compatible close little pride and seem to enjoy each other’s company.



Queen, our girl is doing great, she is just beautiful. She has a favourite bush for shade and loves to spend her time there minding her business. Queen spends a lot of time out in the open, so visitors to the centre often see her – they comment on how much they love her. Queen is very used to the boys next door, Jora and Black, and they communicate a lot.

Johan our vet here at Shamwari, conducted a health check on Queen in June. We trimmed her claws, gave her a dose of antibiotics, checked her teeth, and monitored her heart and respiration rate. We’re pleased to confirm she was given a clean bill of health and is loving life at Shamwari.




Jora and Black have a very close relationship, they are so good with each other. With Jora yawning in front and Black in the background, both are enjoying the cooler weather and lying just a few metres from one another. Life is good here and if they could say it, well they would, really!



Ciam just looks fantastic. He is doing very well and is a big boy, he loves to eat and is very active. He likes to scratch his claws on the trees, jump on top of his platform and rest there or rub his face against the poles. Sometimes he spends a lot of time under a tree in the shade, next to the water trough. Guests fall in love with him and don’t believe that he is only four years old!



Both Leda and Rhea are doing extremely well. Mum is calm and always visual, but the daughter is shy and loves to hide. In the mornings Leda likes to be in her favourite spot in the bushes close to the viewing deck or on top of her jungle gym, sometimes behind her shelter. She is still in good condition, considering she is the oldest cat we are looking after. Guests love her so much. One day during a fence check I saw her chasing a yellow mongoose but she didn’t catch it, they are so fast and agile!

Rhea is using the main camp more, it could be for the sun as it is a bit cold these days. She likes to be on top of her shelter, standing there looking over at Ciam. Later when it’s hot she will be in the bushes or inside her shelter. She is still in great shape.


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