Your calling is something that moves you like nothing else in life. It’s something you’re attracted to, something you’re passionate about, and it fills you with joy and sets your heart on fire when you do it!”
From a dream to a reality
While providing, managing and working closely with eight different species of predators, I observed and experienced each species’ uniqueness and capabilities, and realised that protecting and caring for big cats is my calling in life. The foundation for Panthera Africa was laid, and the desire to rescue and care for the big cats in need powered my already big love, passion and admiration for them!
My eagerness to educate myself led me to learn about the truth about captive breeding, exploitation of big cats and illegal wildlife trade. Through my story and amazing connection with my ambassador animals, I aim to reach the hearts of thousands so everyone can understand how amazing these animals are, and that they should be respected and protected.
My Magical Journey
I used to be one of those typical business ladies with a degree in business and finance, climbing the career ladder, enjoying the jet set life with wining and dining, and having the freedom to travel the world. In September 2011 I was going to start what I was sure was my dream job – a broker in the most up and coming commercial real estate company in Oslo. Two weeks before start up, I sat on a plane to South Africa and was going to volunteer at a breeding project. Little did I know that this choice was going to change my life in every possible way.
After two additional trips to the project, I permanently moved to South Africa in May 2012, and started to assist Lizaene with all her tasks. My days were quickly filled with lots of work and the best thing of all – a lot of indescribable animal time. I was living in a magical world, falling in love every single day with three small furry friends that captured my heart and soul. Little did I know that one of the lions I fell in love with was going away to a breeding and trading farm, and the thought of this place’s possible connection with the canned hunting industry tore my world apart. However hard this separation was, I am grateful for the fire this little lion started inside of me, – to save him and all the other lions that are a part of this unethical industry.
Now, 2 years later, here I am starting my own project and following my dream of saving the big cats. I feel truly blessed to have found my purpose in life, and that I can now make use of my experience from the business world to do what I have dreamt of for so long – uniting for the survival of the lions that have stolen my heart and soul.
I met Cathrine and Lizaene when they were setting up Panthera Africa and was in complete awe by what they managed to achieve in such a short time. Over the years I have watched the organisation grow and have been in awe many times as they transformed the big cats’ lives, improving their health and wellbeing, and as they transformed the volunteers’ lives that pass through here. I joined the team on 1 October 2016 as part of the marketing team, thanks to a very generous donation by one of Panthera Africa’s dedicated sponsors. I have witnessed many miracles while working here, most notably how a big cat sanctuary can inspire people to be the best that they can be.
My love for traveling and for animals brought me to South Africa for the first time in April 2017 as a volunteer. It was important to find an ethical project and my research online was my introduction into the world of animal voluntourism and the many pitfalls pure-hearted volunteers can easily fall into. After much research, I found Panthera Africa and during my time here I was inspired by the animals, the team and their philosophy. From the day I set foot back home in California, I knew that someday, somehow, I would return! Just over a year later I had the privilege of joining the pride as a volunteer coordinator! My passion is to educate others about ethical tourism and to help give a voice to the animals who have taught me so much.
Taryn Shanna Blows
From the moment I met Cat and Lizaene I was inspired! Once I learned more about what they were doing for these animals, I wanted nothing more than to be a part of it. I have a deep love and connection with nature and all its animals and being at Panthera Africa really is like coming home. It is a huge privilege to be able to speak up for those who don’t have a voice!
Our House Residents
Tarzan ( 9 November 2015 )
Tarzan made his appearance the night before we relocated Jade and Zakara. We heard a meow outside the window where we stayed, looked out and saw his gorgeous face. He jumped in the window, made himself at home and never left our side ever since! We fell in love and the signs were clear that he wanted to come with us and join our pride! Tarzan is a true loverboy with his loud purrrring, and a very brave and cheeky kitten who makes his presence felt!
Kira ( 8 August 2015 )
In October 2015 we made our monthly trip to the vet to buy predator supplement and Neo’s cat food. For an unexplainable reason Lizaene asked the vet how are the adoptions going and if there are any dogs up for adoption, and in fact they knew of a puppy that was looking for a home.
Kira arrived at the vet in a bad condition – severely dehydrated, thin and very small for her age. The vet gave her an examination, deworming and prescribed the right food to get her back to health.
After looking into her precious eyes, Cat and Lizaene made the choice to adopt this beautiful girl and unite her with the rest of the Panthera Africa pride.
We called her Kira which means beam of light, beloved and the one who people look up to.
Leonardo aka Leo ( Born 1 September 2016 )
Leonardo was rescued from a farm worker who had five puppies but did not want any of them. A dear friend of ours rescued all the puppies and we decided to adopt one as a friend for Kira. He is a brave and loving companion and he brings joy to everyone he meets.
Orion ( Born 2 June 2018 )
Lizaene arranged for the visit of Buddha and his brother, and it was love at first sight for Cathrine when little Orion crawled up on her chest and fell asleep. After a communication that morning, Cathrine was told that she was going to receive a gift that day, and that she did! Orion is a curious little man that loves to explore every corner of the farm and keeps us all on our toes. He is a kind hearted and playful guy, that has already fallen in love with Leonardo and Kira!
Buddha ( Born 2 June 2018 )
Buddha came as a gift to Lizaene from her beloved Scorgo! In a dream Scorgo showed her a little white-faced puppy and told her that this is the dog with the same life purpose that Scorgo had, and that this dog will be her teacher and companion – just like Scorgo was! It was clearly told that the name was to be Buddha, and from what we have gotten to know of him, he is very kind and soft hearted, and has the most incredible eyes you will ever see!
Scorgo (12 September 2002 – 17 October 2017)
Scorgo has been with Lizaene since he was only a couple of weeks old and he has guided and helped her through all these years. When Lizaene worked at the previous project where she used to raise cubs, Scorgo was her right hand man and helped her to teach the cubs manners and social skills. Scorgo has raised most of the animals at Panthera Africa and his wisdom, knowledge and love has touched and inspired hearts of both two and four legged friends.
Neo (17 October 2014 – April 2018)
They say every feeling and thought that you have is somehow a signal from the universe… When Lizaene got up this morning she had a feeling that we should visit our local animal welfare shelter. On arrival she immediately noticed a kitten in a wendy house and the forces of nature pulled her excited heart closer. That’s when we saw this tortoise shell tubby kitten, named Maya. She was rescued from a local honey factory where she was trying to fight off two German shepherds for food. Without a doubt her brave and cheeky personality shone through and we knew she would be the newest member of our pride.
On our way home we were thinking about all the new beginnings we are granted in life, and that now she is also given a new beginning, this is why we decided to name her Neo which means “New beginnings”.