Their time has come…
It was a long drive and stressful for us and the lions at times but it was well worth it. Finally the time has come for them to be released into their enclosures, stretch their legs and step foot on African soil for the first time. They will spend the rest of their days in the African sun and their nights sleeping under the African sky which is the way it should be!
This was a very rewarding and emotional experience for Sue and I and many others of course.
Jora and Black are now at ‘Home’ and will be looked after by Glen Vera, Born Free’s head carer at the sanctuary and Johan Joubert, Shamwari’s amazing Wild Life Vet who travelled out to Bulgaria to collect them. The most amazing experience – for animal lovers, bunny huggers, whatever you want to call us – it doesn’t get better than this!
Check out the Bornfree website for further information. http://www.bornfree.org.uk/give/lion-rescue-appeal/
Met up with my wonderful sister Sue and the Born Free rescue team today, in Johannesburg.
Two male lions Black & Jora (brothers) were rescued from a circus in Bulgaria where they spent the first 7 years of their life – in confined trailers, and performing in circuses around eastern Europe.
Finally, after 18 months of dedicated effort from the Born Free team and generous donations from the public the lions were handed over to Born Free. The rescue team immediately made the necessary arrangements to transfer them to their Big Cat Sanctuary located within Shamwari Game Reserve, near Port Elizabeth in South Africa.
Land Rover generously sponsored 2 Discoverys with trailers and today we are driving with the lions to Shamwari, a 14 hour road journey. We should get there around 10/11pm and they will remain in their crates until daybreak tomorrow when they will be release them into their beautiful large enclosures.
Really sad to say Good Bye to the BEAUTIFUL Zambezi river 😪…
At the airstrip now to catch a paper plane back to Lusaka. From there I will be flying to Jo’burg to meet my sister Sue and the Born Free Rescue team. They have rescued two young lions from Bulgaria (ex circus) and I will be joining them on the last leg of their journey to Born Free’s Big Cat Sanctuary located at Shamwari Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth.
This was a boat trip down the Zambezi river at sunset or ‘The Killing Hours’ as its locally known. Most predators go out hunting at sunset hence the ‘Killing Hours’ phrase.
On my right is Besa who is the Environmental Educator for CLZ (Conservation Lower Zambezi), an amazing and very funny man who is also very inspiring.
A group of children from each school are carefully selected on a regular basis to attend classes at CLZ’s camp where they have various lessons in Conservation delivered by Besa. After the lessons are finished the children are invited out on a game drive as well as a river cruise which is what you are seeing above.
Most of the children have never seen a lion or an elephant in their natural environment so this is an opportunity for them to enjoy game viewing without feeling threatened.
Most of the children live in human animal conflict areas where elephants raid their crops at night so they see elephants as a threat not only to their personal safety but also to their food supply. These children are mostly interested in conservation and have a keen interest in the animal welfare as well as the environment. Most people will agree that Africa’s wildlife doesn’t stand a chance of survival in the wild unless the local people are aware and understand the importance of protecting their wildlife. What a great bunch of kids !!
I visited a local village where I met these Beautiful little children. My favourite was the little boy on the left of the photo wearing the green shirt, he just didn’t like me and refused to shake my hand or even be part of the photo…
He was so so cute and gave me the ‘Death Stare’ ha ha. The village is situated in the Lower Zambezi area of Zambia not far from the Zambezi river and not far from Chirundu.
Chirundu is the border town on the Zambezi river where you can cross over to Zimbabwe in the south. I was there visiting the community with CLZ (Conservation Lower Zambezi). CLZ are a fantastic organisation who offer various services in the local areas…
(1) Environmental protection in the form of Anti-Poaching
(2) Environmental Education to local schools
(3) Community support in the Chiawa Game Management area.
(4) Check them out here :-
So, there is a Bull elephant in the area that everyone is worried about …he is in ‘Musth’ and is therefore very aggressive and reports have been coming in about him charging people/guests on route to the local air strip … Well it was my turn this morning !!!!
As it’s my last day here in Beautiful Lower Zambezi I asked Rabi to take me out for a drive this morning to do a bit of game spotting (Rabi is the Operations manager for CLZ – Conservation Lower Zambezi) so off we went …just past the airport we came across a Bull about 100 yards from the road.
We stopped to observe (as you do) and at first Rabi didn’t recognise the Bull as the aggressive one as the Bull had just come out of the river and was covered in mud. Then, he just came at us with incredible speed and pace blowing and trumpeting really really loud … it was then that Rabi shouted to me to hold on as it was the aggressive male and we needed to get out of there rapidly … this all happened in a couple of seconds. He got really close to us (check out the photos – sorry if they are not in focus but focussing was the least of my worries at the time in fact trying to take photos whilst being charged was pretty stupid), but what was really worrying, and so out of character for elephants, is that he just kept chasing us for nearly 2 kilometres!
The roads are not good here so trying to keep up a good speed isn’t always possible and I could sense Rabi was worried. Anyway the Bull gave up after 2 kilometres so we just kept going. We came across another 4 x 4 coming the other way with 2 x South African girls driving, they were from a local lodge driving out to set up camp somewhere in the bush for their clients. We stopped them and told them to turn around which they did but they told us this particular elephant had killed one of their workers 3 weeks ago and they were taking no chances. ZAWA have been aware of this Bull for two months but have said once he comes out of ‘Musth’ he will calm down …he is due to come out of ‘Musth’ any time now.
So sorry again about the picture quality – it wasn’t easy taking these pics when a raging Bull is trying to kill you …loved it though …
I feel alive !!!
A beautiful BIG Bull who walked right up to us this morning on the way out of camp.
Had a male lion around my tent last night Roaring its head off ……. quite scary although I’m getting used to it now. Then a Hippo came out the water and the lion moved off. Love it here, it’s Beautiful!
Swimming in the Zambezi was so much fun and an amazing experience. Swimming when there’s Hippos 100 metres away and crocs on the banks is kinda surreal.
I’m leaving camp now and going to visit local communities along the river… looking at CLZ projects all day. Looking forward to it but no doubt it’s going to be heart wrenching and sad seeing so many people in poverty.
I moved on from the GRI projects today and this is my first evening in the Lower Zambezi region where I will be spending the next week learning about the work of CLZ – Conservation Lower Zambezi.
You’re not going to believe this but I’ve just been swimming in the Zambezi river at sunset (4pm to 6pm)…… The ‘Killing Hours’ as its locally known. There were loads of Hippos in the water and crocs on the river bank!
Cosmas, Project Manager of ZPP (Zambia Primate Project) has been nominated for a TUSK Conservation Award! It is a very prestigious award and he is one of only 3 nominees. We had to celebrate… be rude not to, right?!
Check out the links below! My sister Sue nominated him in February this year and we are all so excited that he will be coming to London to receive his award from Prince William at a black tie event at the Claridges in November!