Road to Sustainability - Panthera Africa

Road to Sustainability

Panthera Africa has set the goal of becoming “the first green big cat sanctuary in South Africa” until 2025. Since its foundation, the Sanctuary has implemented small-scale solutions to protect its natural environment and mitigate climate change. Future projects shall turn Panthera Africa into an  “environmentally friendly sanctuary” that runs in solar energy.  

Table of Contents

Our vision

Panthera Africa is a non-profit big cat sanctuary founded by Lizaene Cornwall-Nyquist & Cathrine S. Cornwall Nyquist. The two founders, after having personally experienced the heart-breaking truth about the captive lion industry, started Panthera Africa for two main reasons:

  • to rescue big cats from all types of exploitation and create a safe haven for them;
  • and to raise awareness about the reality of the captive big cat industry to awaken people to the truth and so together bring an end to all suffering for the big cats. Our project is one of only six true big cat sanctuaries in South Africa, where no breeding, trading or interaction takes place. 

One of the main objectives of the project is to become an Eco-friendly Big Cat Sanctuary. In fact, as a vision statement, Panthera Africa has decided to turn into an “environmentally friendly sanctuary for any captive bred big cats, where they will be protected and prosper for the rest of their lives”. We would then become “the first green big cat sanctuary in South Africa”. To fulfil this ambitious goal, the Sanctuary shall run on solar energy and improve the efficiency of its energy consumption. 

Our message

We at Panthera Africa take our responsibility seriously to contribute as much as possible towards the realisation of our vision of a world where animals, humans and nature are equally respected, acknowledged and loved.
We believe in the good of humanity and continuously try to radiate hope for a future that is bright for us all.

Nature Preservation

Panthera Africa is currently located in a 110 hectare farm next to Stanford (Overberg region, Western Cape, South Africa). The region is characterised by a surrounding habitat that is threatened and under-researched. One of its main factors of biodiversity is the dense natural fynbos. We are committed to preserve its uniqueness and have implemented a fire and nature management plan in our Sanctuary. 

Our program has been established due to a partnership with Enviro, a highly qualified management team. After an initial assessment, we have developed a five-year plan to remove alien plants and manage accurately the microhabitat of our location. Every year, we establish specific objectives to eradicate non-native plants and also implement actions to avoid possible fire breaks. Therefore, the alien clearing program in place enables two positive outcomes: 

  • the fynbos in the area is able to flourish; 
  • the removal of exotic plants favours water savings and protects the hydric resources. 

The local Fire Department does yearly inspections and assessments of the property. One of their main objectives is to provide advice on where the fire danger zones are. We also execute controlled fire burns via Enviro and under the guidance of the Fire Department. The protection of our Sanctuary against potential fire risks is, in fact, a priority. 

Another impactful activity of Panthera Africa is the relocation of wild animals. Among the species concerned, we mainly focus on wild cats, caracals and leopards. Our projects pursue the creation of secure areas in the wild for these animals. In recent years, we assisted Cape Nature, local farmers, veterinarians and other stakeholders. We also get involved in rescue operations of animals through direct action or professional advice. 

Human-wildlife conflict is one of the keystones of our small-scale impact. At our location, conflicts may arise between humans and penguins, caracals, or baboons. Therefore, we have established several protocols to ease the interactions between human population and wildlife. 

For instance, local and small-scale farmers want to protect their properties against baboons that may swipe agricultural production. Thanks to our local connections, we have developed a program with lion dung. The felines’ faeces have been recognized as a deterrent for several species. Therefore, we are distributing the ordure to local agricultors and empowered them to scare off predators or animal intruders. The main beneficiaries have been local wine and vegetable farms. 

In addition, we have kept a colony of endangered penguins safe. The settlement is located in Betty’s Bay and was under pressure due to predators. Lion faeces have secured the area and enabled a growth of the colony.

We also encourage local farmers to engage in our Educational visits. During our tours, one of our main stops is the caracal enclosure where we educate people, especially farmers, how to responsibly manage their livestock. This knowledge ensures that caracals are not killed in the process. Our team also provides a long-term follow-up to farmers interested in our support. 

Despite our best efforts, one of the main challenges of our environment is siccity. In fact, dryness affects the country as a whole but our region has suffered several droughts that have had a huge impact on our activities. The scarcity of water impacts the quality of life of our animals but mostly enhances the risk of fire outbreaks. We have therefore implemented several processes to reduce our consumption of water and to reuse it.

Climate change mitigation

Our climate change mitigation program is a small-scale project that aims at implementing best practices via the participation of our employees and volunteers. Our initiatives are the direct consequences of an intense phase of assessment followed by the implementation of specific actions to diminish our carbon footprint. 

The assessment of our carbon footprint has been established in several ways. Companies and individual supporters have been fundamental in our evolution since our foundation. With regards to our journey towards energetic self-sufficiency, our gratitude shall go to Alf Bjorseth. Thanks to his commitment, we developed a project-based partnership with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences to assess our property. 

We also had access to the company he founded and manages – Scatec. The partnership enabled us to use different technological instruments and have a better understanding of our current levels of energy consumption. Other collaborations – with companies such as Sustainable Technologies –   led to the implementation of several small-scale solutions.

The execution of their suggestions has been mainly managed by our employees but also via our volunteer program. 

Energetic efficiency

  1. Energy efficient buildings we have been renewing our buildings on site to ensure their energetic efficiency;
  2. Renewable energy – we are currently transitioning from non-renewable sources of energy to eco-friendly ones. Our first steps have been made during the building up of our enclosures with the inclusion of solar panels for security purposes (thanks to a Duracell sponsorship). Our veterinary clinic now has a battery-driven electrical system which relies on solar power. We aim now at becoming an environmental-friendly sanctuary during the next couple of years by running solely on renewable energy; 
  3. Digital processes – first, we had to overcome several challenges to have access to broadband internet and network. We are now implementing digital processes to ensure that we do not use paper in our office or other bureaucratic tasks. 

Food consumption 

  1. Staff and volunteer diet – our community is proudly vegetarian and most members are vegan. Despite this, we do welcome meat-eaters and engage in constructive dialogue with our visitors to induce a change in behaviour;
  2. Compost – we are actively composting our wet waste indoors and in our animal caring activities. It enables us to enrich our environment while reusing the leftovers in meals, animal-related tasks and other situations;
  3. Local production of food – our Sanctuary has built a vegetable garden that feeds mainly our breakfasts and lunches. It allows staff members and volunteers to have fresh vegetables while reducing our dependence on industrial chains. 

Local production 

  • Local supplies – we have built a network of suppliers that produce items coming from local sources. We always ensure that local production is a priority when establishing new supplies;
  • Exceptions – we recognize that some specific instruments in our daily work routines require the importation of items from foreign entities.


  • Water usage reduction – we have introduced several processes to reduce the use of water. Among them, the project has focused more on human behaviors, especially those related to our volunteer program;
  • Bathrooms – We focus highly on water usages. Our volunteer coordinators instruct all participants who stay at Panthera Africa to conserve water. Specific planning has been made for showers and washing usages. We ask volunteers to collect shower water in buckets so that we can reuse them. We save rainwater into our tanks, and have recently directed water from showers and drains directly into the vegetable garden for reuse;
  • Reuse – In the residential buildings, we use rain water to fill the pool and grey water for the vegetable garden. We also have waterless hand sanitizers to save water; 
  • Other actions –  specific innovations are connected to our nature management plan that aims at eradicating alien species. Non-native plants are responsible for draining our water reserves. 


We are passionate about recycling and conservation. We recycle our waste including glass, cans, metal, plastic and paper. We have specific protocols to:

  • dispose of chemicals that are used in our activities while reducing the use of polluting substances;
  • as mentioned before, we compost our vegetable waste and turn it into fertilizer for the vegetable garden;
  • expand our vegetable garden so that we can become self-sufficient

Support our journey

Help us become the first eco-friendly sanctuary in South Africa

Future projects

We have a system to collect new ideas and improve our daily processes. Volunteers and visitors can provide their input at any time. Considering our circumstances, we are proud of the steps we have taken so far. We are now looking for the next few years to come. Our vision is to become a true eco-friendly sanctuary and an example for other facilities.

We aim to be a zero energy project, and therefore use as much energy as we give back. Through a thorough energy audit, we have reduced our energy usages considerably. Now, thanks to the expected solar park, the project aims at giving energy back into the community. We are now currently looking at funders for the project. 

The objective of this proposal is for Panthera Africa to become a solar powered Big Cat Sanctuary.

Besides financial considerations, our Sanctuary intends to reduce its energy consumption; reuse some of its produced energy and sell it to the grid; change its current source of energy to solar.

After an initial assessment of the facility, the acquisition of new equipment shall improve the energetic efficiency of the site. The project also entails the installation of a new power grid system for solar energy.

The expected impact of the project should enhance the ability of worldwide Sanctuaries to become environmentally friendly and sustain new partnerships between for-profit and non-profit organizations. Therefore, dissemination activities are expected throughout the duration of the project.

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