I am sitting in a camping chair looking at my beloved Pardus, and I see and feel she is going to be ok! As I write this she is looking at me, and just closing her eyes in confirmation. Yes, she is going to be ok!! The last week has been filled with trauma, fear of losing, frustration, sadness, difficult memories, deep connectedness both with her, myself and the greater powers out there, deep love and appreciation, and today I believe the word is relief. And as I write this I feel my body giving a deep sigh and all the muscles relax. This situation also passed and Pardus and I are still together <3
So long story short; Pardus was having fun and doing what she does best – climbing and playing in her tree. The branch she was playing with happened to break and she fell down 15 meters, hit a branch on the way down and landed on her side. I wasn’t there but only got the phone call: “Lizaene needs you NOW! It is Pardus! She fell down from her tree! There is blood running from her nose! Her eyes are rolling white!! RUUUN!!” I believe I suddenly got wings and was down by her in seconds, and during these seconds a million thoughts rushed through my mind – my Lala MUST be ok! She just HAS to be! It cannot be another Shani or Zorro moment! Dear Higher Powers – PLEASE PROTECT AND SAVE MY GIRL <3
As I came close to her I think I went on autopilot – just deeply connecting with her wanting to feel and understand where she was hurting and what was wrong. I felt as we became one and I just knew what to do and how to behave with and around her. I suddenly felt the difficulty to breath, my throat felt thick and I felt the need to cough and nearly throw up. Had something inside bursts or was is just the fall that made it difficult for her to breathe?! My mind went quiet and I connected to something so powerful and I felt a rush of energy flowing through me and to my hands to give further to Pardus. As I stretched out my hands to hold over her, my hands were tingles and felt like a million degrees, and I just focused on the thoughts of healing anything that needed to be healed and sealing anything that needed to be sealed. She started to move with me as I continued to move my hands over her and fuel her with all the purest love I possibly could give her – sometimes stretching a leg, sometimes rolling on side, then the other, the on her back, just doing as she felt she had to do to get her body better. As I did this I felt Pardus taking it all in, and I got the feeling inside of deep gratitude and “This feels good”. At times she was growling, but I was 100% calm and KNEW it was because of pain, and a way for her to release the emotion. I have never in my life felt anything like this, and looking in hindsight I am amazed over how we humans can detach emotionally and mentally, and just let the body and spirit do what is needed. This is the clearest connection I have had and truly felt the strength of true connectedness with whatever is out there. My practice of animal communication and reiki has opened up a lot of mind blockages that I have had in the past, and I just gave it my all! The belief and trust in the unknown has at times been scary to me, because what is it really? And how does it actually work? How can I, as a normal person, be able to communicate with animals and help people feel better just by being in their presence? I know my intentions have always been pure, and that I love to help and make people feel better, but that I actually can make pain and troubles go away by sharing my love? I am sure many of you also have the same thoughts about the uncertainty of what is out there and how it can be possible to communicate with animals, and all I can say, is that I have had the privilege of feeling this amazing power in my hands and deeply connection with an animal, and if it is possible for me, why not for everyone? The saying “mind over matter” is extremely powerful, because the doubt lays always in the mind, and it is when experiences like this that I had with Pardus, that the doubt lessens, and I just have the knowing of it <3 I feel extremely blessed to have experienced this type of connectedness, and excited for the journey further <3.
Another thing this situation also shows is how much people care and the good in people! I so often hear people talking about how the world is falling apart, that people are bad and that so many people have lost faith in humanity. I fully see and feel all the horrible things happening in the world with wars, terrorism, ego-driven world leaders, killing and abuse of animals for the gain of ego and money – I am fully aware of it all. But what I am also fully aware of, and personally feel EVERY day, is the good in this world! The GOOD in people! The unconditional love that is everywhere if you just open up for it. My nickname Tinkerbell describes me well, and I am proud to say I do believe in the good in this world, I believe in love and kindness – I believe in the good in people! I see volunteers coming here every week, some for long, some for short, and every single one leaves this place with a more open heart. I feel that the whole Panthera Africa pride – both two and four legged members – has given them belief and hope for a better world. If you think about – how many good vs bad things do you personally experience every day? Is it the media that is letting our minds get drawn towards the negativity? How many good things happen if you really focus on it? A smile from a stranger? And hug from a friend? A kiss from a loved one? A wag of a tail or purr from your four-legged soul friend? The feeling of the sun rising? The feeling of a fresh breeze on your skin? Listening to the bird being happy and talking to each other? Just laying on the ground feeling your body and listening to your own breath? There are so many ways in which we can embrace the beauty of this world, and I personally believe that each and every one of us can feel pure love every day – even if just for a second – if we just let the mind go and focus on it. There are many things being said about South Africa and that it is doomed with corruption, race hatred, poverty, crime and murder – again, yes, it is a lot of these horrible incidences, and it is happening here more than in most places in the world. BUT I still say that there is so much more beauty here than most places I have seen in this world – that is both people and landscape, animals – everything! I have had the pleasure of meeting the most incredible people who despite of what has happened to them are the most positive, loving, accepting, understanding people I have met. And this shows me that yes – we all can be happy, as long as we focus on the true blessings we have in our lives. Like my mum always told me; its not what happens to you, but how you choose to handle it. It is as simple, yet as difficult as that to appreciate the small things in life, and not let the hard times define us, but shape us to become wiser and more understanding that life happens, and why not grow, learn and enjoy the journey? With kindness and none judgmental attitudes we can all create a world around us, and also within us, filled with more happiness and joy!
The minute people heard about Pardus, the amount of people gathering to send their love and support to us and Pardus is beyond describable. From our dear friend and vet Dr Mark, to our beautiful volunteers and staff, friends, family, supporters, people being on standby in case of emergency plane ride, EVERY WHERE people are being here for us all, and THIS is what humanity is all about! This is where hope for humanity lays! Thank you to each and every one of you – know that it means a lot to Lizaene and myself, and also to Pardus! I KNOW she feels it, and is forever grateful <3
So now a week later, Pardus is better and I am looking after her as she is resting in her feeding camp – actually very happy and grateful to feel the fresh air and sunlight on her body. From being in a crate and barely moving and now being able to be in open space and walk around – I feel her appreciation (and at times also frustration as she of course wants to go into her bigger camp 😉 but she understands and accepts). I believe she also feels the closeness of Zorro, and that he is laying beside her now and helping her recover <3 Pardus is fine and she is soon back to perfect health again 😀 The gratitude I am feeling is from the depths of my heart and soul <3 THANK YOU <3
Cat, founder – July 2017
I am in awe of Cat and Lizaene, and everything they do. They have put everything they have into PA and created this little paradise for animals and people alike. It can’t have always been easy along the way, but the every part has come together to make PA a truly inspiring place to be. There is something special happening on that farm in Stanford. It is almost instant; as soon as you arrive you feel this overwhelming wave of happiness. The people, the animals, the energy – it feels like home, however long you are there.
I don’t think I could ever say ‘thank you’ enough for my experience at PA. I learnt so much – both about the animals, and about myself. Each animal’s story is so powerful and it really opened my eyes to all the issues that animals face in South Africa and across the world. As a volunteer, it is a mine field – there are so many places that pretend to work for ‘conservation’ and call themselves a ‘sanctuary’ when in reality so many are part of the canned hunting industry or animal bone trade. I am so so grateful that my path brought me to Panthera Africa, where I can say that I gave my time to support true animal welfare. I worked hard; and whether it was picking up tiger poo, preparing meat for feedings, building lion houses or helping with tours, I really feel like I was valued and I made a difference to these animals lives…and that’s an INCREDIBLE feeling.
I didn’t expect when I first booked my flights to South Africa that my trip would change my life and I would leave a completely new person. There was one moment where I sat, talking with Pardus the leopard, and I realised that this was a moment of pure, overwhelming happiness. Surrounded by all these incredible animals, somehow everything else just melted away.
Thank you to the Panthera Pride for letting me become a part of your family. I am sending love and good wishes to you all every day and I hope that my path will lead me back to you very soon <3
I’ve done many volunteer projects over the years, most of the time in Southern Africa with big cats. But I must say that my experience at Panthera Africa is unforgettable. Although it’s the shortest project I’ve ever done, it left a very strong imprint in my heart, because of the people there, the animals and the passion that you can feel everywhere. Rarely have I felt such a relaxed, content behaviour in the animals. As soon as you set foot in Panthera Africa, you are overwhelmed with a sense of peace and contentment. Both the animals and the people are just happy. This is a true safe haven!
In most volunteering projects, I’ve been lucky to meet fantastic people and felt like I was part of a group with strong bonds. But here, after a week only, I felt I was part of a family. The way Liz and Cat share their passion, their dream and their true pure love for the animal is so generous and unique. They really make you feel like your presence as a person is making a true difference, and not that you’re a number on a long list of volunteers like in some other places. You feel that you will be forever welcome at the sanctuary and that they can read through your heart your love for the animals.
The entire staff contributes to making your time there special: Lynsey, Nina, Stig, Joseph… a group of pure hearted, funny, relaxed, passionate people with a fantastic dedication.
The purpose is absolutely clear, you learn so many things about canned hunting, bone trade and other background hidden practices in Southern Africa. Whenever you look at the animals, it’s no longer a tiger that you see, a lion, it’s the whole industry they are a victim of, and the hard, patient work a few passionate people dedicate their lives to try and change things.
Being offered the chance to be part of it, even only for a few days or weeks, is a blessing and I recommend it warmly to any hesitant volunteer.
You will not regret it!
Before I came to South Africa I didn’t know what to expect. I was a bit scared actually, since I was going to live in a foreign country for 3 months with people I didn’t know. I was worried that I would feel lonely and homesick, but the second I entered the house at Panthera Africa all the thoughts and worries were gone. It immediately felt like home and I knew that I was going to have the best time of my life. Everyone there was so welcoming, warm-hearted and kind.
Since I was at Panthera Africa for 3 months, which is a pretty long time, many volunteers came and left during my stay. But I can say, that all of them had their own impact on my stay and I had so much fun with every single one. I now have friends in Sweden, Norway, England, Holland, Switzerland, Australia and of course South Africa.
Lyns, Cat, Stig, Lizaene, Nina, Joseph, you guys are family for me and I really, really thank you for everything.
I’ve never really been a big animal lover, I never had any pets or wished for some.
When you look them in the eyes you can see pure love and kindness and it is an unbelievable feeling to be able to make sure that these guys are safe and happy.
Of course I had to do some hard and sometimes not really fun work, but I always thought that I’m doing this for such a good reason, so it was okay. But cleaning the enclosures, looking for poop and bones like on an Easter egg-hunt, painting stumps, building platforms and enclosures and preparing the food was a lot of fun. The days were always diversified, so I never got bored at all.
I would sometimes just sit in the garden, watch the beautiful sunset, listen to the lions roar and feel so happy and calm. But there were also moments of so much laughter (LYNS, STIG ;))…
It is awesome to see, how people from all over the world with so different lives, come together at this place and immediately bond, since they’re all there for the same reason: to help animals.
Thank you so much to everyone!
I learned a lot at my time at Panthera Africa. Not only about Canned Hunting and the animals, but also about life and myself. I will never forget you and I promise to come back, because this is one of the best places in the world to see beautiful nature, make awesome friends and the best; really feel that you are doing something good for the animals.
Love, Lea (Germany)
January – March 2017
Dear Cat and Liz!
I would like to thank you for four amazing weeks here in South Africa and at Panthera Africa!
I have learned so much from my stay here. I knew nothing about the lion industry with cub petting and canned hunting before I came here. I am so grateful that I was allowed to be a part of this amazing work you are doing, and getting to know these precious animals.
I had never thought that I would feel so close to these cats without touching them and being with them physically. Just to sit with them and feel their presence is really something special. I also love to see how the tourists react to the stories you tell them, because this really shows that you spread awareness and help these animals.
I have not only learned about the animals, but also so much about life. Just to see what you guys have managed to accomplish with this place, following your dreams. And to meet so many different people from all around the world and with completely different views of life. I am used to my small group of friends that all kind of share the same view on life and what is “normal”. Then to come here and meet people that have lives completely different than what is “normal” for me. This just shows that you can do whatever you want to do with your life and that you don’t have to live it in one specific way.
I am really going to miss the peace, tranquillity and freedom I have felt here in South Africa. But I will try to keep it with me when I go to everyday life back in Norway. And I’m of course going to miss all the amazing and fantastic animals, and all the new friends I have made here at Panthera Africa. You are all lovely human beings that have made my stay here unforgettable!
I will never forget my four weeks here at Panthera Africa, and I know that the moments I had with the animals will stay with me forever.
I will miss you all until next time!
Lise – Norway
staff members and other volunteers, all the animals,
whole Panthera Africa!
Months ago I was totally nervous and had no idea what to expect at my short stay at Panthera Africa.
It was a dream since my childhood to work with this beautiful animals and do something good for them. As I was planning my trip to South Africa I read a lot of things in the web and heard for the first time something about the canned hunting industry. First I was shocked about myself. I felt ignorant and very naiv. I changed my plan and cancelled my first destination which was already booked for a week too and booked only a stay for one week at Panthera Africa. And yeah, at this time there were a lot of mails with Catherine – and they helped me to do the right thing.
Now, I stayed only one week at you but I can´t express in words the way you have changed my soul and I would say a piece of my life. After a hard time in the past this one week gives me so much peace and strength back to me that I can´t believe whats happens to me. It was such a great time and I enjoyed every single moment of this week – but I can´t express in words what I want to tell you.
In the middle of nowhere you created such a beautiful home for you and your big cats. A place of quiet and peace. The view, the unique evening mood at the fences, the clear starry sky – amazing!
Only one week! I was pleasantly surprised how fast I felt like home and comfortable. All of you were so approachable and friendly that i had no other chance. 😉 Ok, my English is not very good (u can still read in this text^^) and that was my biggest problem. I couldn´t act in my usually way where I really am. But I really enjoyed the cool and funny conversations in the evening on the terrace.
Surrounded by all the marvelous cats and far away from the daily business in Germany I had a chance to come down for myself and at the same time I could work for these cats and doing some good things for them. I could see every single day that all of you do their work with so much passion and love for these beautiful animals. Ok, I think this week was a bit chaotic because of the happenings with Bella but I´m still happy about my decision on this day to stay at home. 😉 So I had the chance to see everything and could help you a little bit. This day was definitely a highlight for me. I hope Bella is feeling well and is enjoying her new life!
Liz and Cat, I wish you to keep on your passion, remain true to your principals, find further supporters for your beautiful place and make them bigger! You have enough place and I like your future planning. 😉 I could see it in every single moment that everything you do – you do this with all your heart. The daily planning, the caring for your animals (for example the fresh green gras for Bella 😉 ) and when you go to your animals by your own.
I just wanna say thanks!
And sorry for the other guys but my special thanks is for Cat. She had so much patience with me and my mails and helps me a lot in my planning for my trip to South Africa. And Cat: your words to me when I was leaving means a lot to me!
Thanks to the whole Panthera Africa family.
I´m sure I will come back – and not for only one week…
Sitting beside Neptune as the sun goes down, it feels a privilege to be in his presence. A true king! His calming aura and wise eyes give me the perfect opportunity to reflect on my time here.
Before coming to Panthera Africa I wasn’t too sure what to expect but from reviews I read online and the conversation with Cat and Liz prior to arriving, I knew it would be a unique experience. Looking back on it now at the end of my time here, not only has it been unique but also rewarding, eye-opening and incredibly inspiring.
Hearing about where the animals have come from can be heart breaking, but in equal measure it so so important to understand their stories and in turn the importance of protecting these beautiful creatures. Seeing the animals at Panthera Africa now totally at peace is a truly wonderful thing.
What Cat and Lizaene have created here is nothing short of incredible. It is an experience I will never forget and I am already so excited to return again one day. In the mean time I will follow their progress avidly as they continue to look after the beautiful creatures in their care and introduce new members to their ever growing pride.
Alice – December 2016
A couple of months ago I had no idea that I would be in SA as a Volonteer at a Sanctuary for Big Cats. It has been a childhood dream, one I never thought i would live, especially not at the age of 52. But, when one door closes another one opens – and here I am.
My first week out of 3 has been filled with so many fun and new things. Learnt so much!
Surrounded by all these marvellous souls of Lions, Tigers, Panther, Caracals, Jackals and dogs and cats. So many impressions and new things to learn, every day. Cleaning the enclosures and taking part of the feeding of all animals, watching all animals being so happy and content feels so good. Being here when the little newcomer, lioness Elsa – 6 month old, was introduced to her sister for the first time felt very special. Also celebrating Lion Obi’s 5 year birthday was something special. All Volonteers had been working on a big “birthday cake” for him, just great. So much creativity! Being in this beautiful and peaceful environment really changes something within your heart and soul…makes you more humble.
And, the people here…amazing, all doing a fantastic unselfish work. I really felt like coming home as soon as I met Cat and Lizaene. Lovely, warm energy with so much passion and will to do good in this world and especially for these animals rescued – wow. Wish the world had so much more people like Cat and Lizaene.
This week some of us also had the opportunity to visit a pre-school for children 4-8 years. Children living in one of the shanty towns near by. They were adorable, filled with lots of joy despite living under tough circumstances. The people working there doing such an impressing work. We brought with us penns and paper, balls and all kinds of toys for the children and their teachers. To see their happiness went right into the heart.
What a first week! I feel so greatful
Charlotte, Sweden – October 2016
A heartfelt thank you to Lizaene and Cat<3
When I came to Panthera I did not expect I would leave an entirely different soul. Being in the midst of yourselves has changed everything about me. I’m not certain I can express in words the way in which you have changed my heart and soul. Never in my life have I met two more extraordinary women, with so much passion, love and ambition to change the world. Your intentions are so bright and open and beautiful. What you have created is a blessing to the world, and I’m sure you’re aware you live in a paradise on earth. But the way you express your thanks is set apart from anyone I have ever met. You both show your thanks by bringing happiness and and light to the hearts every person that crosses you’re paths.
My time with both of you as well as the lions have made me so certain of who I am to the core. My outlook on life, what I’m going to do for the world and my spirit has been captured and entirely changed for the better.
Yourself, Jade and Zakara and the rest of the lions have pulled my hopes and dreams out of my heart and made them visible. And Cat, the time you spent with me made me proud and certain of who I was and what I was going to do, so I could shout it to everyone I meet. The time spent at Panthera Africa has created such an imprint on my heart, and forever a piece of it will be left with the lions there. I have never been so inspired and in awe of any two people in my life, and not only did I get to spend time soaking in your love and light, but I was also welcomed into the family to make a real impact, with open arms. I cannot begin to imagine a larger heart out there. I am certain that no one else in this world is more gracious, giving and kind than the two of you. You have changed me in all the ways that needed to be brought out of me and shown to the world.
Thank you for all you have done for me. Thank you for protecting those precious beautiful lions. Thank you for giving everyone around you light and love. Thank you for helping me find who I am and what I will do.
All my big love forever, Celine (Canada, 2016)
We are all part of something that is so much greater than ourselves, and when truly realising this, your focus changes and you start to see how amazing this world really is! We are all an important piece of a greater puzzle – the puzzle that we call LIFE.
When booking my trip to South Africa in 2011, all I was expecting was a two week volunteering experience. In hindsight I see that I was destined to make that exact choice, and that I was guided all along – to be right where I am supposed to be. I truly believe there is no coincident that I chose that particular volunteer project where I came to meet Lizaene and the astonishing white lion Acinonyx, who sprinkled me with stardust and started the change of my journey. That was all that was needed to sweep me off my feet and realise that it was more out there for me to discover, and for me to find my true purpose in this life. So many people have asked me questions about if I was scared to make the choice, how I dared to leave everyone and everything I knew, and how I dared to quit my job, take up a big loan and start Panthera Africa! And the answers were always that I felt it so natural and actually easy choices to make – and for me not really choices but rather following a deep feeling in my heart with the knowing of doing the right thing. Sitting here four years later writing this blog, I deeply feel that Lizaene and I have been guided and protected by the animals in our choices and we are truly meant to do this. I see around me and I understand that I am exceptionally blessed to have found that thing that makes my heart sing, and I am grateful to have had the courage and power within to follow the signs along the way.
At a time during the set up face of Panthera Africa, I found myself in a very difficult place where I didn’t know where and what I should do. The struggles and hurdles seemed too big to overcome, and I was finding myself doubting if this was all worth it. One day I picked up a book called The Purpose Driven Life that Lizaene’s dad lent me, and after a couple of chapters I suddenly stopped after reading some words that made everything fall into place, and where I found strength again. It said something along the line of that we all wonder about and seek the true meaning of our lives, and the questions seems to always focus on what I want and what I need, and so the book turned it around, saying that we are all part of something greater, and that we are all playing a vital part in the grand scheme of things. So along the way YOU might not always be happy and you find yourself in struggles that seem too difficult, but this is all part of a higher purpose and lessons and learning curves we go through in life. We might not always understand why things happen or don’t happen, but that is ok too. So instead of focusing on all the things that was hard and keeping my focus narrow, I found myself suddenly asking; how and where do I fit into the greater picture? How can I make a difference for others and the greater good? I have still not finished the book, but for me this was all I needed to hear in order to shift my focus and hang in there – because I KNEW inside that I was on a right path, and that what Lizaene and I was a part of, was not just for us, but for the greater good of animals and to contribute to raise the level of human consciousness.
Looking back now, the puzzles came together when they were meant to, and getting the permits when we did, and meeting the right people when we did, and everyone around us during the last years have all played their part – whether it is physically, personally, emotionally, financially – in any way, people have made this journey possible, and we are where we are today thanks to a lot of people out there. So please feel our gratitude and appreciation, and I hope you feel in your hearts that you have also played a vital role in the journey of Panthera Africa – whether for an hour, a month, a year or four years as the case is for Lizaene and myself <3 We are all important and can all make a difference – we all have a greater purpose!
When talking about purpose, I also want you to think about your purpose and your actions. Do you do things based on your own wants and wishes, or do you managed to look at a situation or an action from another people’s point of view? And being a lion and animal hearted lady I ask every person involved with animals to ask yourselves – do you do what you do for the best interest of the animal or do you do what you do for the best interest of yourself? Many of you know that my heart and soul were captured when I came in contact with the lions and leopards, and I strongly believe that Lizaene and I were chosen to do this and to play a role in the journey of these animals. We have, through many heart aches and experiences, learned many lessons, and I believe that it’s time for all of us to dear to be honest with ourselves and ask the difficult questions. Whether you are a tourist, a volunteer or a breeder– who are you doing it for? Do your actions make your heart truly happy? Are your actions part of something good? Do you believe that it is in the best interest of cubs to be taken away from their mother when she is fully capable to do it herself? Do you believe it is in the best interest for an animal to be petted by hundreds of people every week? Have you thought about what happens to the animal after you have left it or sold it further? Do you as a volunteer think that the animal you fell in love with also fell in love with you, and that it is left heartbroken not understanding why you left? Try and put yourself in the animals’ “shoes” and truly feel how YOU would have felt in their situation when reflecting on these questions.
I know I awaken a lot of emotions by righting this and asking these questions, but I believe we must be able to raise these questions and dear to ask them. We are here for each other right? And by not asking these questions, who are we actually protecting? Should the questions be too difficult to answer or create a lot of strong emotions inside, we have to ask ourselves why, and if it might be time to change our actions so we can answer all these questions with a positive heart <3
Dear to do the right thing, and I promise you – it feels amazing to do so! Dear to stand up for what you believe is right. Speak the truth. If you have done something wrong, dear to admit it. We all make mistakes – and we all can learn and move on from them! We are all part of a great network, and have entered the same web to be part of each other’s journeys. The right people find their way to enter your life at the right time, and if the road is rocky, well then just keep on overcoming the hurdles – the plains and beautiful road awaits you <3
When a little voice inside draws you towards something or you get an idea in your head that seems a bit crazy at the time – dare to follow that thought or feeling and see where it takes you! One day over three years ago after having spent time with the lions, suddenly a voice inside my head told me a crazy thought, and you know what it was? “One day you and Lizaene are going to open a sanctuary!” I was completely surprised as at the time I was just a visiting volunteer, and Lizaene and I were just friends! The thought kinda stuck with me – and I am smiling here I am sat of that thought now being my reality and purpose in life! Where do your dreams and thoughts take you? All I can say is that dare to follow it and I promise you will end up in places you never even dreamt of <3 I know I have already, and I am so excited about the journey ahead, and I hope you are too!!
With love and light, Cathrine – AKA Cat <3