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
I came to South Africa originally to Kitesurf and to see some friends that I had met on recent trips whilst travelling around Europe. Whilst I had some aspirations to volunteer on this trip, I didn’t expect to come here, and truth be known, I had not really heard of canned hunting, captive breeding, and true Sanctuaries – never mind Panthera Africa!
I came here on a recommendation from a friend after speaking about ideas for volunteering, and after doing some research realized this was an organisation with good ethical practices where it is obvious where time and money spent would be put to good use.
I can honestly say it has been one of the best experiences of my time here and cannot recommend it enough if you are interested in big cats, or wanting to understand more about what happens in this industry, or just simply want to come and put your time and energy into something worthwhile.
The set up is good, a big comfortable shared house, friendly staff, and a good mix of volunteers from all over the world from all age groups, and then there is the animals themselves.
They run a no breeding, no petting, not for hunting and minimal human interaction ruling here, and provide a safe home for these animals who have been taken from other sanctuaries, and perhaps would not be able to survive in the wild.
Part of what the owners are trying to do here is spread the awareness of what can be done to help these animals, and how a business can be set up and be successfully run in this way.
The owners Cathrine and Lizaene are very knowledgeable and passionate about their project, and for saying it has only been open 9 months, it is incredible what they have achieved in such a short space of time.
The animals are amazing to see, and whilst you are not able to interact as such, you are able to sit with them through the fences, and just soak in the atmosphere of these amazing animals! To hear the lions roar in the evening as the sunsets, or witness the tigers chuffing as you walk past the enclosures is not easy to describe, other than wow!
There is a mix of Lions, Tigers, Jackals and Caracals and a Panther, and all have a story to tell. The animals all seem very happy and content, and have x2.5 the minimal required enclosure size.
Volunteers are able to become involved in a variety of work, ranging from the physical (building new shelters for the animals, repairing fences), to helping prepare food and herbs for the animals and feeding, to enrichment activities (for the animals to play with). The pace is good and there is a nice balance of things to do and time to just chill and relax or spend time near the animals. What also works well is a weekly trip out with the team to go do some fun activities away from the farm.
As an experience to help out on a genuine project I would strongly recommend it, and as an opportunity to develop an understanding and awareness of what happens in the world of these animals it is definitely worthwhile. There is so much I am taking away from the past few weeks here, and cannot thank the owners and other volunteers enough for making the experience what it is.
John – January 2016
2015 – What a year! The last day of the year is here, and looking back at everything that has happened, I nearly get overwhelmed. From the highest of high’s to the lowest of low’s – this year has taught us many valuable lessons and enriched our lives in so many ways! So let’s take a walk down memory lane.
We started 2015 in near desperation, we received bad news just before Christmas from the local government, who said we needed to put our sanctuary on hold for the next 6-8 months! With a lot of persistency and begging skills we managed to get 10 people from the Environmental Department (ED) and Cape Nature here to inspect the farm. With very thorough preparations and a lot of “UUMMF”, we passed with flying colours! The OK from ED came through within a couple of weeks, and then it was “only” Cape Nature left.
The first cat to arrive at Panthera Africa was our beautiful Neo that we rescued from the local animal welfare clinic. She was only a small kitten at the time, and I will always remember how she expressed her enormous gratitude with constant purring for the first 48 hours <3 She has grown into an incredible loving yet quite selective tomboy, and is a great link between the cats outside and the house. She still captures many hearts, and sometimes if you are lucky, she accepts your invitation to sleep in your bed 🙂
On the 4th of March THE email arrived, and our dream could finally come true – all approvals and permits were in order and we could FINALLY bring the animals home!! In the early morning of the 16th of March a big trailer drove in to Stanford, and Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary finally became complete! 15 beautiful majestic animals found their way to their new home, and everyone involved could take a deep sigh of relief and contentment – WE MADE IT!!! All the hard work of setting up outside, and getting things in order, finally paid off! I still remember lying in bed that evening and Lizaene and I couldn’t really understand it all – She asked; have the last 48 hours really happened? Are they all really here?!”. A good pinch in the arm and a peak out the window was necessary just to make sure we were not dreaming <3 A big special thank you to everyone that was involved during the relocation – both two and four legged friends – this was truly a day where magic happened!
Our aim was to open to the public on Pardus’s birthday – the 28th of March, but as the days and weeks went by we saw that some of the animals needed more time to settle in. So the opening day was moved to the 3rd of April, which was Good Friday – and what a Good Friday that was J With a small and lovely group, we gave our very first educational visit, and the sanctuary was truly open! Since that day we have been blessed with over 1500 excited tourists, and we thank you all for your kind words, recommendations and most importantly – helping us to spread the word and educate others about animal welfare and how these animals should be respected and treated.
We have had the great pleasure of hosting our two first animal communication courses, which has opened up a new world to us all. We are amazed and deeply grateful for the knowledge and “tools” we have learnt, and how it has and is helping us to better understand and improve the lives of all the animals here. The feeling of being able to truly connect with your soul friends is beyond words to describe, and we are all excited to continue this road together – animals and humans side by side. We will definitely have more courses in 2016, so stay tuned for the new dates!
October arrived and a beautiful little black girl entered our home – Kira is our latest addition to the Panthera Africa pride, and she has stolen all our hearts and souls <3 A more kind, loving and well-meaning dog is hard to find <3 Not knowing her exact breed, we are watching with excitement how she is growing and turning into an incredibly beautiful and clever lady! Soon it’s time for the second Puppy School with more fun for both us and her 🙂
All the animals have truly prospered over the last nine months, and looking back at pictures it is amazing to see the difference! The most incredible and inspiring change that has happened is with dearest Obi! He has risen and grown far beyond our wildest dreams – both in size, condition and health, and off course with his amazing VERY-fast growing mane! Obi, you are a true inspiration and I often look at you and think – anything and everything is possible J To hear your roars at night time warms our hearts and fills us with such respect and admiration! Well done, our kind-eyed man!!
We have had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing people over the past year, and I personally want to thank all of you! Especially to Annie, Andreas, Berna and Lynsey that has walked a long path with us – I hope you feel it when we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts! When Lizaene and I got the idea of Panthera Africa two years ago, we were a bit nervous if we were going to get enough volunteers as we are one of very few places that are a true sanctuary and do not breed nor offer cub petting. However, we are so incredibly happy to say that we have had over 70 amazing volunteers over the last year, and that we are fully booked till the middle of February! The consciousness of the tourism and volunteer industry is changing rapidly, and we are so proud to be a part of this change. It makes us truly happy that people are understanding what animal welfare is all about, and that we are opening our eyes and starting to look at the world from the animals’ point of view! This is the way for a prosperous future – mutual respect and love for everyone and everything around us.
So to everyone that has crossed our path the last year – THANK YOU for making Panthera Africa to what it is! THANK YOU for respecting the animals and helping us to take care of them! THANK YOU for sharing love, fun and laughter, and also some tears at times <3 We are all part of this pride, and everyone is playing a vital role, whether being a visitor, volunteer, technician, animal communicator, staff, founder, animal – we all make Panthera Africa the paradise it is!
So going into 2016 we have many wishes and dreams, and I hope you all want to join us in making them come true! Our first corporate team building will take place in January, and I wish for at least 12 events during 2016 J Our enrichment camp is finally finished so we will open up for enrichment visits, which I know many of you are excited to see J We have made many amazing connections with large and inspiring organisations, so we excitedly picture our first big rescue mission and the building of some new rescue camps J Education is the core of our project, and we are excited for all the children and schools that already have been here. Next year we aim to become partner with many local, national and international schools and make nature and animals part of the curriculum J And may our dream come true on taking the first big steps towards becoming a solar driven sanctuary J
As many of you know, our lives took a real knock this December when our gorgeous leopard boy, Zorro, passed away. I still see and feel him on his platform, and I still hear his lovely talks whenever I visit his enclosure. However difficult and heart-breaking this experience has been and still is, I feel that Zorro has showed me and all of us what true kindness, forgiveness and love is all about. Even though his time here on earth was way too short, he spent his time extremely well and touched many people. We have received a lot of messages from all over the world telling us how Zorro touched them – whether inspiring them to choose a career, or coming through difficult times, or giving them a meaning in life. Zorro gave us the taste of what life is all about – how to be in and value the present moment, and just feel the beauty and love that surrounds us.
So on that note I would love for all of you to take a minute, maybe even close your eyes, and think back to one moment when you were truly at peace and happy inside – whether with an animal or with another human or even alone in nature. Take your time and truly feel how your body felt and actually how you can remember and still feel that feeling inside. Take these feelings and carry them forward to every part of your life, and do everything you do with the intention of love inside. Try this every day, and you will see that change will start to happen <3 To all the volunteers, tourists, friends, family – everyone – that have been to Panthera Africa and taken part of this paradise, and to other people who have experienced other incredible moment, you have the power inside to be what you want to be! So let’s spread the love, and be the change we want to see! Let’s be the best version of ourselves and shine our light and love around us!
Lizaene and I feel deeply blessed to be here and be fuelled with magic from these animals every day, and we are excited to share 2016 with both old and new volunteers, tourists, friends and family, and we are very excited to welcome a new year with millions of opportunities and dreams waiting to be fulfilled!
Love and light,
Three years and one month ago I had a dream. My granddad that passed away that year and to whom I was very close to, came to me in my dream and told me that Mischief, Zorro’s mom, will have 2 cubs on the 30th of November. He told me that one of the cubs is a gift from him to me to always remember him by and find comfort with.
On the 30th of November, one month after my dream, Zorro and his brother Zian was born right in front of my eyes. As it was Mischief’s first litter and she was captive born and hand reared she didn’t know what to do. I helped her to get the little bags off them and held them so she could clean them. She trusted me and I even put them on her nipples to drink for the very first time.
Three days later Mischief rejected both of them and I took them in to hand rear. Zian, his brother died at 3 weeks of age on the 24th of December and even though I was devastated, Zorro gave me comfort and stole my heart all over again. From that day on Zorro has been a comforting and guiding part of my life and when I think of him I think of kindness and love….
As I sit here and write tonight I still struggle to understand what went wrong – I struggle to understand why my gift from above was taken away from me so soon. I struggle to understand how it can be that you are with me one moment and 10 days later you are gone. I feel so responsible and even though you say I should not blame myself, my leopard boy, I still feel that I should have protected you from any harm.
Zorro, my bombompies, I do not know how to be without you, I do not know how to look at your tree and platforms and not feel my heart ache. I do not know how any day will become easier without having you close and around me…..
You sent me a clear message and I know that you have important spiritual work to do, I know that you are still with me and in my heart, and I know that you fold your paws around me and protect and love me, but I will everyday wish that I could turn back time …. Every day I will wish that I could save you and have you with us, and I will try every day to make you proud and to live my days with kindness.
Zorro, thank you for blessing me with love and guidance, and thank you for choosing me to be your friend and guardian. Thank you for being my bombompies and Lala’s friend, and we feel you close every single minute.
All my love – always and forever <3
Where do I start to write a blog like this, when my heart is breaking yet filled with so much love and gratefulness for having had the privilege to have been one of your best friends, Zorro?
One of my friends told me today “Life is pleasure. Death is peaceful. It is the transition that makes it difficult”, and I guess that is where I am right now – trying to make peace with that your physical form is never going to be with me again <3 You have been my rock, my buddy, my comfort and strength for so long, and even though I know you are still with in spirit, I really would have loved more time with you here, my bombompies <3
I feel that THANK YOU is what I want to say to you, Zorro – for all the things that you have brought to my life <3 Here are just some of them <3
Thank you for giving me the honor of your friendship, love and respect <3
Thank you for showing me what pure kindness and compassion is all about <3
Thank you for always filling me with strength, love and comfort <3 Always in your presence I feel my heart rate sink and my body and soul reconnecting to the present moment, and just being <3 I remember you telling me that this is what life is all about – human and animal, side by side, in respect and honoring of each other <3
Thank you for always being happy for seeing me and walking your loving slow yet excited walk towards me <3
Thank you for sharing your talks and beautiful heartfelt squeals <3 I am smiling here I am writing and that gorgeous sound, and as I now continue my tears are flowing for the longing of hearing it again <3 How I wish to just see you and hear that sound once more, Bombom <3
I feel you around me, my beautiful man, and I know you will be with me forever <3 During the last week of your journey here with us, you brought me to a higher level of consciousness and showed me that in spirit we are all connected <3 And for this I thank you deeply – for giving me the courage and strength to reach out, believing and understanding more about the beauty of Mother Earth and all living beings, and experiencing the power of the universe <3 I sat in your camp praying out loud with the wish to save you, and I am so sorry that this didn’t happen, but I understand that there are higher purposes and meanings with everything that happens, even though we not always understand it right away <3
I thank you for guiding me to greater harmony with and understanding of life and everything there is, and for the change in my perspectives <3 I will honor you by trying to guide the people the fall onto my path, and I will do it with a heart filled with Zorro-love <3
I honor and celebrate your life and your time here with us <3 I have been beyond the moon and back-lucky to have been with you every step of your life here, and for that I will forever be grateful <3 All our memories are rolling like a movie in my mind and heart, and I will every now and then, sit down and enjoy a movie date of you, together with you <3 I will tell your and our stories and spread your love further, and I will everyday try to climb to your level of kindness, honor, respect, compassion, and the ability to be right here and now <3 Through you and because of you and our journey together, I will do my best to become a better person <3
Sitting in your camp today, I felt you there so clearly, and I did as you told me; to close my eyes to see and feel you close – and there you were <3 sat next to Lizaene and myself by your favorite logs, before you climbed your tree and laid on your favorite platform, with your legs crossed, keeping an eye on all your Panthera Africa friends <3 You are the kindest being I have ever met, and thank you for sharing this with me! Thank you for showing me what gentleness, kindness and love is all about <3
I believe one of Zorro’s purposes was to show us pure kindness and compassion <3 So I ask everyone out there that is reading this, let’s honor and pay our respect to Zorro by showing each other and all living beings pure kindness and love <3 Let’s respect every living being, whether it is your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife, friends or family, human or animal – let’s spread positive vibes, thoughts and actions <3 strive to be the best version of yourself <3 always choose love <3 do what is best for one another <3 show respect <3 BE KIND – just like our superhero Zorro <3
With all my love and kindness,
I woke up on a Monday morning thinking of all the dreams we have but that we don’t put into action. Maybe because we are scared, maybe because we do not want to go outside our comfort-zone or maybe we do not believe in ourselves. One of my dreams was to go to South Africa. Experience the beautiful landscape, culture, nature and of course the wonderful animals. Now I’m here in paradise and I’m so glad that I found this amazing project and that I had the courage to fulfill my dream.
Cat and Lizaene , the founders of Panthera Africa, are two powerful women with big dreams and a will that can take them to any length. I’m really impressed of how much they have achieved in just one year, but if you want something you have to work for it and I think Panthera Africa is the perfect symbol for that.
I would like to share a quote written by Walt Disney that I find inspiring.
“If you can dream it, you can do it!”
Stina Lindgren, Volunteer – Nov 2015
I first came to panthera africa in march 2015 and after only spending 1wk here, I knew I
would be back!
I am now back in big cat paradise and straight away feel at home. Both the staff and animals
give you the best welcome.
It is great to see how settled and content all the animals are and how well they all look.
Panthera hadn’t started their education tours last time I was here but now they are in full flow
and they are spreading their words worldwide.
I am back as a volunteer and have the pleasure of getting to know each of the animals. They
all have their own personality. Neptune and Oliver just love to tell you about their day, whilst
you walk by or sit and enjoy their company.
The caracals love to play. Pardus and Zorro enjoy going up and down their tree and the
jackals play hide and seek!
Beautiful Bella and Raise love to walk with you around their enclosure, and Achillies and
Jubatus are happy for you to sit outside their enclosure and just enjoy their company. They
have the kindest eyes for such huge animals <3
My days are filled with chores around the sanctuary, from cleaning, making enrichment for
the animals, painting and learning about these beautiful animals. I say chores it doesn’t feel
like work, as it is rewarding to be able to help and offers a great retreat away from the office
and the daily grind of work back home. There is no better way to refuel your mind and body
than by coming to such a beautiful, rewarding Place!
Nicola, Oct 2015
Listening to the powerful roars of a cacophony of lions and sitting in changeable weather, minute sunny and hot, the next cloudy with a brisk breeze is how I spent the afternoon today. Perched on a tyre outside Oliver and Obi ‘s enclosure while they slept it had been a busy morning for us all.
It’s Oliver’s fourth birthday on Sunday and his first at the sanctuary. It needs to special and it will be. We had a brainstorming session to devise an ‘enrichment’ birthday cake. It will have three tiers including a rolling ball made from tyres filled with goodies. It will be painted in three colours (made with flour, water and food colouring) and be topped with candles made from empty loo roll holders. Not to be left out, Obi will have a tasty birthday box. I have to say, constructing the cake is taking all our team building skills with each volunteer playing to their strengths. Needless to say, I’m a labourer as those who know me I’ll testify to my DIY expertise. Pics to follow of the finished cake.
Afternoon tea has a different meaning in South Africa, no scones, sandwiches and delicious cakes but chickens flying through the air (not alive). It certainly woke the boys from their slumber for a few seconds before they moved away and played hide and seek with me while I walked back to the house.
It’s going to be an interesting early evening, I’ve said I’ll join a yoga class in what will be the lion’s permanent enrichment area in the middle of their enclosures so there will lots of eyes on us. Whether I manage to complete the class remains to be seen. Many years ago I got up and left my one and only yoga session after 10mins!!
Best get going, it’s almost time and I need a cup of tea to give me strength. I’ll go without the chicken but a chocolate biscuit wouldn’t go amiss.
Whale watching tomorrow . So pleased I packed my travel sickness bands, I hate water but need to conquer demons so I can ride my horse across a Bailey bridge with low sides at home. Talking of riding I’m going on a beach hack on Thursday morning. Need to check out hats are available, first though. It would be very stupid to survive working with big cats to come home injured because of a fall off a horse!!!
Pam Mallender – October 2015
As I sit before Neptune, a magnificent male white lion, I look around at my surroundings and can’t help but think of the opening sentence from the book “Out Of Africa”…
‘I once had a farm in Africa’.
It makes me think of all the past, present, and future staff members and volunteers who will forever have such wonderful, inspiring stories to tell for years to come. Stories of walking around the tigers’ enclosure only to be joined by Bella, a female Bengal tiger who loves the company of people. Stories of being filled with joy when you watched the animals have the time of their lives with the enrichment YOU helped make for them. Stories of not needing an alarm clock, because you have the roars of lions to wake you up in the morning (and lull you to sleep at night!). Stories of meeting new friends from all over the world, friends you would never have come across had it not been for Panthera Africa.
Cat and Lizaene, the two owners of the sanctuary, are two of the most sincere, devoted and caring people I have ever met. I am truly in awe of all they have achieved so far, and will go on to achieve in the future. They have completely dedicated their lives to the animals who live here at the Sanctuary, and also to the other animals out there who still, very desperately, need help.
As soon as I arrived almost three weeks ago, I could see that each animal has his or her own unique personality. They are all incredibly sweet, but I was instantly drawn to Neptune. Not only is he beautiful to look at (they all are!) with his thick white mane, handsome face, and incredibly wise eyes, he is also a very intelligent, funny lion. He makes me smile every day, whether it’s by rolling around lazily in the sun, carrying his enrichment off proudly with his head held high, or by the way he calls very gently and quietly for his treats. When you look into Neptune’s eyes, you can see that he has a very intelligent and caring soul.
The thing I love the most about Neptune, however, is his loyalty. Neptune has been with Lizaene for his entire life, and it is so easy to see that he completely and utterly adores her. He will wait for her by the side of his enclosure when he knows that she is coming to see him, and at that point it would be almost impossible to distract him. Lizaene is his best friend, and I love how clear it is for everyone to see that, while Neptune enjoys the company of others, Lizaene is his one and only.
I thank my lucky stars every night that I have been given the opportunity to be at Panthera Africa. Everyone here is so welcoming and friendly, it’s like being part of a big family. Evenings together after work are filled with fun and laughter. And while the African sun sets behind the mountains, I can feel my heart say
“I am at home, here on this farm in Africa.”
Lynsey – August 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 –