South African safari reserve Shamwari rescues two lions from Ukrainian war zone

South African safari reserve Shamwari rescues two lions from Ukrainian war zone

Shamwari Private Game Reserve’s ‘Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary’ last month carried out an eight-thousand-mile rescue mission to bring two brother lions from a farm in Ukraine.

Born in a Ukrainian zoo, lions Tsar and Jamil were taken as cubs to a farm where they were exploited as tourist attractions, kept in horrendous conditions and fed a poor diet. Without specialist care, the lions quickly became malnourished and sickly.

After animal protection organisations led to the return of the lions to a wildlife rescue centre in Kyiv, the next hardship came in 2022 when the war broke out with devastating impacts across the entire country.

Thanks to a Ukrainian rescue centre, a Polish zoo and Natuurhulpcentrum (NHC), via a brief stay in Poland, the cats were evacuated to the safety of NHC’s wildlife rescue centre in Belgium.

The epic journey then saw the brothers loaded into custom travel crates and transported to Johannesburg via Luxemburg at no charge thanks to Born Free’s air transport partner, Cargolux!

After being met and checked over by Born Free’s vet, Tsar and Jamil’s overland road trip to South Africa’s Eastern Cape began, every step under the watchful eye of an expert animal care team to their final destination at the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary at Shamwari.

“It was with a sense of joy that I learned of the safe arrival of these beautiful lion brothers at wonderful Shamwari in South Africa,” co-founder, Born Free, Dame Virginia McKenna, said.

“After enduring such misery and hardship in their early years, they can now live the rest of their lives as free as possible, just as nature intended.

“Grass beneath their feet, sun on their backs, and the shade of trees where they can rest whenever they wish. No longer exploited, but respected and cherished. For 40 years our charity, Born Free, has worked tirelessly for individual wild animals like Tsar and Jamil.

“Their story is the story of Born Free, one of perseverance, hope and change.”

Featured image: Tsar as he entered his new home at Shamwari Big Cat Sanctuary (c) Lyndon Brandt. (Source: Born Free org)

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