The Long Road Home…

This time it’s me (Sue) on the road and not Dave our OATOKE!  OATESS maybe?? 😗

Lion Rescue Trip

I have just returned from my third lion rescue trip with the Born Free Foundation. I must say I thought that it would become easier to deal with the roller coaster of emotions that such a journey evokes. I was very wrong, it has been just as emotional each time.

Its disheartening to think that these animals have been imprisoned for their entire life for human entertainment, but also heart-warming to know that there are amazing people and organisations that care about them. They not only care but make it their mission to give the luckier ones the dignity they deserve and provide them with a more suitable home.  Rescues also raise awareness for the plight of all wild animals in captivity and hopefully one day they will be considered as the sentient beings they are, and the exploitation will stop.

In the meantime, organisations like The Born Free Foundation, with the help of their supporters, including OAT and friends of OAT,  will continue their vital rescue work.

This most recent journey involved two lions rescued from a zoo and private ownership in Spain and France. Nelson (17) was from a French Zoo and Ciam (2) was confiscated from his owner who had kept him caged up in his back garden! Nelson and Ciam spent the last 3 years and 18 months respectively at a rehabilitation facility in Belgium Natuurhulpcentrum where they have been taken good care of whilst awaiting the go ahead to travel to Born Free’s big cat sanctuary located within Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa.

The following pictures will tell the story……

Nelson & Ciam Crates

Lions loaded

I was delighted that on this occasion that my close friend Alicia Hosking who had expressed an interest in helping, came along on the trip. She not only gave her time but also contributed personally to the rescue costs and I am proud to say we are now jointly covering the costs of lifetime care for both Ciam & Nelson.

Rally for Conservation

You may remember that another close friend, David Simpson, accompanied me on a previous rescue of lions Black & Jora a few years ago. Inspired by this trip the Simpson family recently embarked upon a fund raising event, together with OAT. The purpose being to assist with the Ciam & Nelson rescue and contribute to general animal welfare and conservation work undertaken at Shamwari. It was a huge success and thanks to our very generous guests we were able to donate a significant sum of money.

Rally & Max & Jeff

Cars & bids

Funds raised and then the journey begins…

On the way

Nelson’s last health check before the final leg of the journey….

And finally…they are back in Africa where they belong!Ciam at Shamwari

Nelson at Shamwari

Open spaces for them to explore and new smells and noises to get used to, some of which may stir some distant ancestral memories.  All of this in the comfort and safety of their purpose built enclosures at the Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa.  Sadly, Ciam and Nelson cannot be returned to the wild as humans have robbed them of their natural survival instincts.  However, they will be very well taken care of by the Born Free team at Shamwari and fly the ambassadorial flag for other wild animals in captivity 🦁 🐒 🐘

4 thoughts on “The Long Road Home…

  1. What a wonderful outcome at last for these two magnificent animals. It is a disgrace to mankind that they have been kept in such poor conditions for so long, especially Nelson, but at least they can now live out their days back on African soil where they belong. Huge thanks to you Sue, your friend Alicia, and to Olsen Trust and Born Free for their wonderful work and commitment to free captive animals.


  2. I can’t see these photos and read this story enough! Huge, sincere, heartfelt thanks to OAT and Alicia, and to the Olsen and Simpson family for their vital input in making this lion rehoming a reality, and to Sue and Alicia for so generously funding the life-long care of Nelson and Ciam at Shamwari. Nelson and Ciam can now put the dark days of their former life behind them. Hooray! 🙂
    Tricia Holford, Rescue and Care Officer, Born Free Foundation


  3. Absolutely lovely to see these two beautiful animals being returned to their natural homeland. So proud of you all. Richard ,Jo and Daisy. X X X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words Richard, now all we need to do is get you, Jo & Daisy to release your cat out the house ha ha ha.
      From Oatoke on behalf of Oakess 😉


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