Home is where your heart is. I think everybody knows this sentence but does everybody know what that means? What means where your heart is? The heart is inside the body so home is where you stay?
No, I definitely left my heart at Panthera. Why?
Because this is a magical place where my heart is in good hands. Because this is like my family who always supports me and my dreams.
Because in the morning you can hear the lions roaring.
Because the sunset is the most beautiful I ever seen.
Because after the hard work you know everything was for something good.
Because this place showed me how to find my way.
Because they know how to help and because I love this whole place with all the beautiful animals and people.
These are the reasons why this is my home, my African home.
Every time I look into the eye of one of these animals I see a thankful soul. A soul which knows how to forgive the right people. A soul which can guide you if you allow it.
Thank you Panthera Africa!
Alisha (Germany) 14 Apr – 19 May 2018
Lizaene and I were asked to be on a panel discussion at this year’s World Travel Market in Cape Town, and the topic we were asked to cover was the impact tourism and the tourism stakeholders have on the topic of animal welfare and the wildlife industry. We were excited to share our visions and below you can read our appeal to the public.
When it comes to interaction with wildlife, people often debate and focus on the physical deed itself and not the whole cycle. The questions asked are: Why is it wrong to interact with a tame wildlife? Is it ethical or not?
When interaction is offered to tourists and volunteers the first crucial and immediate aspect is safety – both for human and animal. Tame wild animals are still wild animals with instincts and the only way for them to say “NO” or “ENOUGH” is to attack. This can lead to humans being injured or even killed as we have seen many more incidences over the last past years, and it leaves the animal with a very unsecure and uncertain future. It also triggers one of the biggest animal welfare questions: Is it in the best interest of the animal to be interacted with?
Secondly it is the cycle that the animal is put through in order for it to be tame to be interacted with. The cubs are taken away from their mothers only a couple of days old, which is a huge health risk for the cubs and tremendously stressful and traumatizing for the cubs and the mother. This action forces the mother into her next breeding cycle way to soon and this is totally unnatural for her. Females in the wild have litters every two to three years on average, but in captivity they breed them up to three times a year with severe health implications and only to have more cubs for interaction.
Thirdly it is what happens to the animal when it is too big, old or dangerous to interact with. Some end up back into the same cycle as the parents, one of excessive breeding which often includes bad animal welfare practises. Others end up in wildlife trading, sold to non-ideal captive projects, killed for their body parts, or end up as a trophy selfie on Facebook on a wall somewhere. At point or another along this cycle the animal is negatively impacted and harmed either emotionally, physically or mentally and that we cannot be blind too. The interaction cycle also influences and impacts human/animal equality as when the animals are excessively bred, cubs taken away from their mothers, hand reared for interact with, sold, killed or hunted we put ourselves above the animal and make the choice for them. We enforce our will onto them. This becomes a situation of no respect, no consideration and no love for another being. It is then a clear exploitation, money and ego driven deed/industry.
The problem is that all of these unethical practises – pre and post interaction – are hidden from volunteers and tourists, many times deliberately by a range of tourism service providers. When the tourists and volunteers discover the truth, it is a huge shock follow by disgust and sadness. I know all about this feeling of shock, disgust and sadness because I have been through it myself. (Lizaene ends)
Indirectly, tourism stakeholders actually have the biggest impact on animal welfare – meaning that tour operators, marketing agencies, volunteer agencies, everyone who has promoted or sold a petting/interaction experience, walking with a big cat, volunteer package to one, ten or even thousands of tourists, have all one way or another unknowingly contributed to the upkeep of the industry Lizaene has just described.
It hurts to hear it and actually know that you have been a part of this canning industry. I sure know that feeling as a I was a previous volunteer, fooled by the marketing propaganda of a volunteer agency and the nice sounding words of “breeding to release”, paying large amounts to be with lions that the majority now are killed for the bone trade. The truth sticks deeps and that is what thousands of people feel after having found out what they actually have been a part of. The tourism industry has kept this dreadful industry alive for decades – and I believe its time to take the stand and roar the truth with the power of a lion! The big cat industry has been kept alive by “us”, so it can also change with the help of “us”.
The biggest challenges facing this captive big cat industry are the lack of awareness, and that there is great confusion about the grey zones, lacking a united stand from the responsible captive wildlife projects. Many tourism stakeholders from all over the world are making contact with the leading tourism organisations asking them “Where do we go? Which are the right places to send our clients to?” They are terrified to make the wrong choices as they know the damage this will make for their business and the brand of South Africa. I strongly believe that in order to make a significant shift in the direction of ethical practises, and really direct the power of tourism towards a sustainable and animal welfare based industry, we need to make it extremely simple and clear for the general public, volunteers and all the other stakeholder to fully understand.
We, Panthera Africa, live by the three simple guidelines, which everyone can follow in order to be 100% sure that you are supporting the “right” big cat projects regardless of species – No breeding, no trading and no public interaction of any sort. There is no room for grey-zones at the moment – even though there always are. But how the situation is right now, I am afraid people don’t understand the difference.
What I believe we all can agree on is that we want our clients and all tourists to have a fantastic feel-good experience here in South Africa, and of course also for them to return! People are becoming more conscious and wanting to make the right choices, and in order for that to happen people need to be educated! And this is where all tourism stakeholders come in – you and me – we have a responsibility to make it clear, easy and also care for all of South Africa – both nature, animals and people. Imagine a tourism industry, world wide, where we all are ambassadors for a sustainable future and through our different businesses we strive forward towards a brighter tomorrow for everyone involved – the animals included.
I want to finish off with one of my favourite sayings by Margaret Mead: “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have”. (Cathrine ends)
Share our vision and message, and let us create a brighter tomorrow for everyone in the tourism industry – both people, nature and our beloved animals!
Cathrine S. Nyquist – April 2018
On Wednesday night I had the incredible experience of being in the presence of the Kings and Queens of the world, the holders of sacred wisdom and the keepers of the ancient knowledge.
I received an invitation to eat supper with Pardus the beautiful black leopard and the rest of the pride and of course Cathrine. I have spent a little time with Pardus before, during the day but at dusk these creatures come alive. The pure energetic connection to what resonates for me as joy, playfulness and connectedness was almost palatable. In between beautiful conversations and being the observer of the incredible connection that these two ladies have was one of the most moving evenings of my life. Because at dusk the echoes and the calls that vibrate around you are felt through your entire body. Pardus for me holds the key to finding the joy, softness and almost mystery of being a woman. At first sight she appears totally black but when she allows you a sneak peek in the glistening sunlight she revels to you her hidden beauty of being dark brown with gorgeous chestnut and auburn markings. Making it ever mysterious that we are far more than we could ever imagine- the gift she holds out for us.
As the sun set slowly the lions and other animals start their calling. The deep vibrating messages echoing across the mountains. We moved on to sit in the presence of the Obi and Oliver. Obi is a split lion and Oliver is a white lion. As we sat observing each other and surrendering to each other within the space of 2m apart, face to face, being to being, heart to heart. The two lions in front of us joined the roars of beautiful Neptune and callings of Pardus. Each time I experience the roaring of these magnificent creatures there is something deep within me that breaks wide open. My heart literally opens ups and the tears flow. It is so challenging to even try and put the experience into words as it is something that you feel deep within you.
A knowing of ancient pathways being connected and healing that is able to take place deep within and flowing of what is, what was and the promise of what will be just appeared before me. The stare of the lion in the dim dusk light that sees you for who you are and feels you and that is unimaginable to describe. Their vibrations that literally shift your energetic vibration, feeling almost like they penetrate through your body, giving the gift of the mysteries of life, the simple act of being. The courageous brave lion heart that we all have….the being that has been hurt and abused by man so graciously allows me into their space and offers nothing more than what is and between the connection nothing other than beauty exists.
We moved on to sit with the ever majestic Neptune. This time together almost indescribable to explain, one that I have experienced during that day before that was so amazing. The calling of the ever King of the land seems to always summon the other lions to add to the collective vibration of “in unity there is strength” and in that connectedness is a given. He sits strong and upright watching, listening, feeling you. His gorgeous blue eyes gently caressing your heart. When we arrived he blessed me with the first calling that echoed deep within me, the tears flowed and the divine being and energy he is gently gazed allowing me to rest a while, holding something deep within safe and sacred. Sitting quietly together in the darkness with Neptune I felt a presence and out the corner of my eye was Oliver watching us, observing us about 2 m away in the other camp, just like a shadow appearing out of nowhere. Just there watching……not sure how long he had been there for?
The ever energy and spirit of true courage and strength exists within the lion presence. The symbol of mastering of your emotions the kingdom within and the aligning of your own outer and inner kingdoms is echoed and the gift that is given through those echoes is the gift of healing. The summoning of the keepers of the night the protectors of our souls and the honouring of the setting sun that allows mother earth to grow and warm our souls.
A piece of my heart will forever echo through your calls, through the roar in the dusky night that night.
Kathryn, 12 March 2018
As we all embark on the journey of life, we are consciously unknowing/unaware of the journey ahead. Yet the magic of it all is that all the coincidences, choices we make, paths we take, it is all part of the greater plan. And as humanity starts to awaken, the subconscious starts to penetrate to the conscious mind and the whole being is suddenly connecting with itself in a whole new way. A way where animal communication is the normal practice for understanding and growth; connection within and listening to the voice of the soul is our everyday practice. You awaken to a world where connectedness is all there is, and our lives’ purposes become known, and everyone suddenly gain a greater understanding of life, our connectedness to all life on earth, and to the magical universe as a whole.
As the sun rises and sets, so does all life, and as the circle continues every day, so we can all walk with the knowingness that all things happen for a reason. A reason that at times is unknown, yet you will someday understand. As we dare to listen and truly feel the emotions that flow through us, we can easier acknowledge it, work through it and overcome and grow from it. As humanity runs away from this, the dense and tense energies will still remain. As we reconnect within and truly feel, so the density and tension will rise and be eliminated, as low frequency energies cannot prevail in a high frequency energy field. So when people say “love is all we need”- love has a frequency of the highest of vibrations and can therefore heal and transmute/cleanse all energies that keep us from moving forward.
So my wish for you is to acknowledge what dense feelings lay inside and that you have in your life, feel it, sit with it, dare to truly be with the emotions that arise. As you acknowledge it, you will suddenly feel that your fear of the hurt and pain is actually gone away, and you can from there move forward to fill your space with the divine power of love. As I roar the power of love to your hearts, feel it open and let your soul again reconnect with the depths of your heart, so you again can feel the beautify this life has to offer us <3
I have been through it all, so if I can do it, so can you<3 Make a conscious choice and welcome the feeling of love <3
Baguira -the Queen of love and wisdom <3
We received this beautiful poem written by Lynsey who has been with us for 2 years as volunteer coordinator and who recently went back to her home country Scotland.
“Thank you Lynsey for all you have done for the pride here at Panthera Africa. We miss you a lot and wish you the best of luck on your future journey. And thank you for sharing this beautiful poem”.
“I wonder if you realise
What you have done to me
You’ve taken a soul that was caged
And taught her how to be free
I wonder if you realise
What you’ve given to me
You’ve shown me how it feels to be happy
You’ve made me the person I always wanted to be
If you could have seen me before all of this
If you had known me way back then
You would understand how much you have changed my life
You’ve gifted me with the will to live again
To have lived these years with a purpose
To have lived these years with a home
Is to have known what heaven must feel like
It’s to know that I’m never alone
Sometimes I stop and wonder
What in God’s name have I done?
Have I sentenced myself to a life of regret?
Through choosing, again, to go on the run?
But the answer is no
How could it be
That I’d regret a life
That has gifted me with this family?
So here’s to you for saving my life
For making my dreams come true
And every success I may achieve in the future
Will be largely thanks to you
And I’m steady thinking, my way is clear,
And I know what I must do tomorrow
When hands are shaken
And the kisses are blown,
Well I will disappear
Let me tell you that I love you
And that I’ll think about you all the time
But Caledonia is calling me
And now I’m going home.”
16 November 2017
Now at the end of my three months stay I can say that this was the best time of my life! I learned so much about canned hunting and breeding facilities but I also learned a lot about me and what is important in life. Follow your heart! Thanks Cat for being in this way a role model for me. You came here to South Africa and changed your whole life and you seem to be very happy with this decision!
I have fallen in love with South Africa and also with these beautiful animals. One of the most incredible moments I experienced here are when Lizaene or Cat walk between the enclosures and you see that the animals are so thankful for their life here.
I’m sad to leave this place here but I know the animals are connected to me- especially Jade and Zakara. These two lionesses have a really bad background and I can totally understand why they don’t trust humans so much! But they also know that Cat and Lizaene always want the best for them.
A big thank you to all the animals here, for showing me all your kindness, love and forgiveness. It was a pleasure to meet you!
A huge thank you to all the people in Panthera Africa, that you gave me a place in you amazing family.
See you all again!
Alisha- Germany 08/17-11/17
My message today to humanity is to release all fears and become fearless!
What are you so afraid of? Why make up so many fears with the only purpose of holding you back? To release one’s inner strength and power is the biggest gift you can honour yourself and your surroundings with.
Who are we not to thrice and reach our goals/purpose in life? The challenge often falls on letting the mind override the purity of the heart. The constant comparison against oneself and others – it is what is separating people from their true selves and inner peace.
You are all wonderful in your own beings, and it’s time to start to believe and trust in yourselves. As you start to listen within your heart will lead the way. Lizaene and Cat are two prime examples of this, and it is for the world to look at and be inspired.
To follow one’s heart, take courage and bravery, and the beauty of it is that we all have it. We all have it, just dare to let it shine through. You are fearless in certain areas of life, like a mother protecting her child, or a father’s protection over a family. We all possess the qualities, and today is a good day to ignite their spark inside and let ourselves be fearless in pursuing peace within ourselves, around us and by doing so creating peace on earth. Dare to sit still without interruptions and just open your sense. Truly listen around you, smell what is in the air, see with the eyes of beauty and truly give gratitude for being on earth and being able to love your closed ones. I have experienced the closed ones that only know how to hate others as the self-hatred is so enormous, yet I have also met the most open hearts who dare to open their heart and soul to love. The thing is – we are all the same – the love inside is all existent within – we are just to scared to love oneself as we don’t always feel worthy. But no matter what you have done to yourself or to others, or allowed others to do to you – the answer is forgiveness, and that is the healing power of your own heart!
We all are here to learn and go through different experiences in life, and as we learn and evolve from these “happenings”, we manage to overcome the greatest of challenges. Challenges that we never through possible – yet we do! Isn’t that bravery? To stand in the depths of hardship and move through is as courageous as we can be, and our limits are tested.
So wherever you are in the this point in life, dare to take some time to just breath, look at the situation you are in and ask: What am I supposed to learn from this? Is there something I am not seeing? If I look deep inside and I am honest with myself – can I do something to ease the situation I am in? What is the kind thing to do? If I look at the situation with an eagle perspective and detach emotionally – what is the bigger picture?
Hope and love is within all of us – all beings are fuelled with divine love, and its time we start seeing and acknowledging it in every person you meet. Everyone is here to learn, so what can you do to grow and heal yourself? If everyone goes within to heal oneself and respect and accept others as they are, the journey ahead for all of us will be filled with kindness, compassion, awareness and love.
Reach within and you will find your own paradise!
In honor and love,
Oliver – the knight of the rising suns
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!