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!
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