We arrived here about 3 weeks ago, unaware of what we had let ourselves into. We weren’t sure of what kind of labor we would do or how we would “connect” with the animals.
I will always remember our first working day here. We were killing some “Port Jacksons” (weeds), later we were headed to the house for lunch. I fell a bit behind, as I was fascinated by the lions in one of the enclosures. I walked a bit more to see the lions more up and close. One of the lions rose up and started walking beside me on the other side of the fence. This was my first meeting with one of the many predators. The huge lion and I walked together for a few meters and as the walkway was coming to an end, I turned around and he followed.
The feeling there and then was remarkable and indescribable. You just have to experience it yourself to know what feeling it is to have a lion walk beside you.
Being here at Panthera Africa has been the trip of our lives. Being so close to all these beautiful predators and get to know their personalities is so amazing. And lets not forget the people, the other volunteers and of course the owners Lizaene and Cathrine. Liz and Cat are some of the warmest people you can meet, they do everything on the farm with a great passion, and in all interest of the animals. They greet you the day you arrive with such a big and open heart that couldn’t be measured with any money in the world.
Linus has as well had the time of his live. Back at home we don’t have any special routines, because we work during the evenings. However, here you get up at around 7.30, eat breakfast, morning meeting and then get to work. Physical labor. Even though the things we do down here are considered work, it doesn’t feel like it. We clean, feed, make toys for the animals. Linus has got to experience twice – wait for it – slaughtering a cow. Of course the animals we feed is donated and died of natural reasons. So, during the day we can suddenly get a call from some farmer in the area saying that one of his cows has died today. So Linus takes the truck and drives to the farm, picks it up, come back and slaughter it. And those who want to help or look are more than welcome.
As I was writing this down we had activity day, and got the time to sit with the animals in the morning. We each chose “our” animal to sit with. I chose Achilles and Jubatus. Since the first day I’ve felt there was a deeper connection with especially Achilles than with any of the others. We have had a couple of walks together and it seems like he is listening to every single word I am saying – which is a good feeling compared to the responses from many other humans.
Right now I am sitting here writing this, Linus runs around the enclosure with Achilles, and he hasn’t got the look you get sometimes when they think of you as a meal. However, it is more like a friend, playing together. They take a few rests, as both Killie and Linus is quite tired, and then they start over. This is also what the predators needs, stimulation – as if they where in the Wild.
It seems like both Achilles and Jubatus (or Killie and Jubs as I call them) has accepted us as part of their pride (not as food) and protecting us. As I came down today to Killie and Jubs, Ollie another lion stalked me on the way down. As I sat down and called at Killie and Jubs to say, hello, Ollie was on the other side still staring at me. My boys came, and they had a good eye on Ollie even though he just lay on the other side of the walkway. I felt safe.
A bit description of our experiences and feelings;
Falling asleep and waking up to the roars of lions, every day.
Sometimes feeding them – still warm – fresh red meat.
Seeing a tiger jump which you didn’t know that they could do. Especially that high.
Cleaning the enclosures and see how they live.
The most amazing sunsets over the “African” trees.
The farming work, that’s actually making a difference.
Get to know them.
The feedings when you could see the wildness in them again.
Having a lion roar strait into your face and you get some of the spit on you. What an indescribable feeling! It goes strait into your heart and soul. You say “thank you” to the lion, and he’s like “this was for you”…
And… their amazing stories when it’s told by the two women who were there and rescued them…
It’s no wonder why Cat moved down here from Norway. You get a certain peace and happiness in your heart and soul.
Linus and I are already planning on coming back this year to this piece of heaven on earth, Panthera Africa. We are so grateful for choosing the right sanctuary with the right people.
No interaction, No breeding – a true and pure sanctuary.