Monthly Archives: June 2015
It has been three months since my beautiful animals have arrived and somehow it still seems unreal. I see them, I hear them, I feed them and I take care of them, but it still feels like a dream.
Before starting on the Panthera Africa journey I worked with and saw my animal nearly 364 days of the year for 5 years, and all of a sudden I was left seeing them an hour a day maybe 5 days a month, or even every second month. Although I knew we would be reunited, this was just the worst and most heart breaking months ever. I often found myself crying or exploding in anger for no reason. I often found myself longing for them to the point that I felt time is standing still. Everyday I thought of them and everyday I prayed that we would be reunited and that they knew how much I loved them. It has been a hard year and a half from leaving the previous project where my passion started, searching for a perfect piece of land, going for weeks without seeing my animals. In addition we started with the testing and nerve wrecking approvals and through all of this I needed to find the energy and inspiration somewhere. There were many ups and downs, and some days I asked myself: “what the hell are you doing? Have you gone stark raving mad thinking you can setup a sanctuary?” On these days Cat would buy me a bus ticket to Bloemfontein to visit the animals and as soon as I saw there faces – I knew why and for who I am doing this. Everytime I saw my lion boys eyes and heard their roars, my energy and inspiration exploded!! These animals are my life and they have changed me in a way I never knew possible.
Writing my blog outside lala(Pardus), our black leopard’s enclosure, I look at her and the tears start to flow. She is here, she is realy here!! I can walk outside everyday and see her beautiful rosettes and see her climb her tree like a monkey. I look outside my bedroom window and see all my animals happily resting on their hobbit houses. I start my tours introducing our tigers, and Raise chuffs gently. I drink coffee and watch the sunset with my soulmate, Neptune and end of my day breathing in deep as my lion boys roar so close that I feel the vibration in my heart and body.
People say that we have saved these animals, but in fact THEY HAVE SAVED ME!!
I read an inspirational piece at breakfast this morning and it triggered something inside me. Often we find ourselves on auto pilot and just surviving through another day because that is life, but STOP, breath, feel, think and…
LET NOTHING HOLD YOU BACK:
Go forward with your shoulders back, with your head high, and with a smile. With your enthusiastic spirit, perseverance, and integrity of character, put your intelligence, talents, and passion into action.
Never let setbacks excuse you from trying again. It often takes many attempts to be a success.
Never let negative people influence you or direct what you do. Always face forward and see your whole life shining bright for you. Never let go of your character, ideals, or activism for the good of this world.
Never let go of the passion that inspire you, guide you, and always smile on you. These passions will lead you to reach your fullest potential. Hold on to them, and they will keep you honest, caring, kind, and generous with the finest gifts your heart can give. – Jacqueline Schiff –
Love and light,
– June 2015 –
Mhh, what a nice morning it is today. After all this rain and wind it’s finally quiet. Where is Pardus? She must be in our tree, waiting for sunrise. I should probably get up as well. I have to walk my round and see, if everything in the enclosure is alright. But first, some morning stretching. Oh yes, that’s it. Way better.
Before I start, I should say hi to Pardus “Good morning, honey. I’m doing my round now.” Alright, the grasses and bushes seem fine. But some more marking is never wrong. Let’s move on to the swing and tunnel. Oh I definitely need to mark the tunnel again. How are the other animals supposed to know that it’s mine, if it doesn’t smell like me? Ok, how is my tree? It looks like yesterday. But does it smell like yesterday too? Yes it does, awesome morning. Everything seems good and it’s a beautiful sunrise. I will watch it fro m my platform. Climbing is a good exercise as well. I have to get these muscles working.
I’m getting better and better. I made it up in no time. Ahh, I’m such a great Leopard. And I’m so good looking too. But enough of that, I have to investigate the neighbors. Ok nothing special this morning. Everyone is still in their enclosures. But wait, I hear something. It’s the bucky. That’s always interesting; I wonder what the humans have on the back today. What’s that? I smell meat. It must be feeding day. Awesome news, I have to get down this tree and go to the fence. I love feeding days, I can eat, relax and I get attention. I really would say feeding days are my favorite days. Cat, Lizaene, Andreas and all the volunteers are always so nice to us. We must be something really special to them. They do so much and we don’t have to do anything for them. I hope they can see how much I love them too.
But why are they always feeding the lions first. Come on, throw that leg over here. I’m hungry. Ohh, there it comes…Yeah, I got it. Let me just make sure, that Pardus has the smaller piece. Yes she has, now I can eat in peace.
That was a nice breakfast. I will save the rest for later. It’s probably the best, if I have a nap. Time to go back on my platform…
…Oh that was a great nap. I should have some more bites of that leg for lunch. I love my life. I think I should have another nap. Considering the heat it’s probably for the best…
…Oh look at that, humans are watching me. It must be tour time. Yeah, I know I’m pretty. “Hey guys, do you see these muscles? Are you here to see how strong I am?” I should get down and pose a little bit. Yes, feel free to take photos of me and my girlfriend. That’s my favorite rosette by the way.
Oh hey, they’re throwing a red ball in here. Pardus seems to like it. She loves to play and she’s always so active. I’m so lucky, that she loves me like I am. I’m not that much into playing with that ball, so I will walk some more rounds to check my territory and do some marking. That should be enough work for one day.
Tim – June 2015
I felt it as soon as I arrived…the passion, the dedication, the commitment and the pure love that the founders Lizaene & Cathrine have for their project and their animals. As two ex volunteers themselves, it was a refreshing change for me, a full time volunteer for 2 years now, to feel so valued and respected as a contributor to the project and also to the ’cause’. The ’cause’ being the education of the volunteers and the public to be fully aware of the constant challenges on all levels facing big cats in Africa today, both in captivity and in the Wild.
I had come here based on a search for a truly ethical sanctuary, and also on a very strong gut instinct, initially inspired by the blog I had read on the Panthera Africa website, written by Cathrine, and detailing the trials and tribulations that had faced them setting this place up. I felt that anyone who had gone through all that blood, sweat and tears, and not only still be standing strong but also smiling at the end of it all, was everything I believed that a true santuary should represent, and that the ladies involved had real lions hearts.
The animals here will take your breath away with their beauty and uniqueness, and their stories can fill you both with sadness and also pure joy, knowing that despite their often poor start in life they now live in a forever home, safe and sound, full of kindness and love. An animals eyes have the power to speak a great language to those who want to listen, and the animals here all tell a story of hope and inspiration, not only for them but for their future generations also.
For me, being around the lions and especially the spiritual white lions, makes me feel like I am in the presence of greatness, yet also like I am finally home with my fellow Leo’s. Their magnificence is astounding for those who wish see it. Lion symbolism is used in cities all over the world to portray raw power and courage, strength and pride and that is exactly what they were born to be and represent, regardless of their beginning in life.
And all these animals now, thanks to Panthera Africa, have a happy ending filled with multiple layers of love from everyone involved here… the many nationlites of volunteers who come to help, the public who come to visit and learn, the people who donate, the wonderful farm worker Joseph, and in particular the girls who made it all happen, Lizaene and Cathrine.
A true big cat sanctury.
Suzanne Scott – June 2015
I knew Zorro when he was younger; I spent three months with him at a previous project. To be completely honest – I came for the cheetahs that were there, but I gave my heart to this gentle, beautiful guy. I had never before had anything to do with leopards, so the only knowledge I had about the species was mainly from the internet, where they seem to be big, unpredictable hunters. Not something that I thought of as “cute”. So I was very surprised that this species turned out to be “mine”.
It’s been one and a half years since I’ve seen my boy. During this time I’ve thought about Zorro a lot – known that a big part of my heart was left behind in South Africa. But it wasn’t until I came to volunteer at Panthera Africa, and Cat and Lizaene showed us around on the property, and when I caught a glimpse of him that I realized exactly how much I’d missed him. I could not keep my attention on the tigers that Cat or Liz was telling us about, and I got surprisingly emotional. It was kind of embarrassing, especially because I had not expected such a big reaction, but Cat, Lizaene and the other volunteers understood completely.
At the last project I was allowed interaction with Zorro and Pardus, and there is nothing I miss more than being able to give Zorro a big hug and a good scratch… But seeing how happy he is with Lala in their new enclosure, with a giant tree to climb – I think they are happier without the stream of volunteers coming through but never staying for longer then a couple of weeks or a couple of months.
I’ve only got a couple of weeks left here at Panthera Africa, and I know that saying goodbye to all the animals, especially Zorro, is going to be extremely hard – but I know that every single cat on the property is happy and well, which is going to give me peace when my time to leave comes.
Lilo – June 2015