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Experience Panthera Africa

Posted: 30th November 2015 09:39

Panthera Africa is a non-profit company dedicated to helping big cats escape captivity and cruelty. It was founded by Lizaene Cornwall and Cathrine S. Nyquist, who both fell in love with these unique predators while working as volunteers at a breeding project. That experience opened their eyes both to how magical these animals are, and the dangers they can face, even in captivity; one of the lions that they developed an especially strong bond to was sent away to a trading farm with possible links to the canned hunting industry. This experience was heart-breaking, but gave birth to the dream that would eventually lead to Panthera Africa – to save him and all the other lions that are a part of the canned hunting industry.

Panthera Africa is an environmentally friendly sanctuary for any captive bred big cats, where they will be protected and prosper for the rest of their lives. They are a true sanctuary where no cub petting, breeding or trading takes place, and they aim to be the first big cat sanctuary powered entirely by solar energy. As well as providing 40 hectares of protected paradise with trees and a natural spring for the animals to explore, Panthera Africa is an educational platform where they can create awareness about conditions big cats face in captivity, and how animal welfare and enrichment play a vital role in giving them the best captive life possible. They believe in the possibility of a prosperous future for the big cats, and take pride in speaking on their behalf.

Main Threats to Big Cats in Captivity

Poaching of big cats in the wild, either as trophies or for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is widely known and condemned, however it is big cats in captivity that are often in need of the most help. Many breeding programs that claim to be protecting lions and tigers are in fact engaged in trading or canned hunting programs.

Cub Petting

Many big cats raised in captivity become part of an intensive breeding program. These are designed to produce cubs for visitors to pet, and cubs are taken away from their mothers as soon as possible so that the mothers can breed again. Many captive breeding programs and zoos promote cub petting as a marketing tool, but have nowhere to keep the lions when they are older, and either trade the animals, or simply put them down.

Canned Hunting

Most of these lions end their lives as victims of canned hunting programs, where they are prevented from escaping their killers. Some of these lions are shot in physical confinement, but others are simply unaware of the danger posed by hunters as a result of cub petting. Canned hunting is a huge business, with most clients coming from North America or Europe.


Those that are not used for canned hunting can end up anywhere. Many are sold to wealthy individuals as pets, where they are kept in poor conditions by people with no knowledge of how to care for these amazing creatures. Over time they begin to suffer from physical or mental problems as a result of their captivity, and are abandoned or euthanised. Others are sold into circuses where they are subjected to huge cruelty, or are simply sold on the black market for their body parts.

The Animals

Panthera Africa provides a safe place for captive bred animals to live out the rest of their lives comfortably and happily, without the threat of hunters. Each of their animals has its own story, and you can choose to support one of their ambassador predators.


Zorro is one of two boys that were hand-reared as their mother showed no interest in raising them and left them outside in the rain. His brother sadly passed away, so Panthera Africa found him a friend; Pardus. He is a big boy, yet has the softest of hearts, gorgeous strong features, and loves to play.


Arabella, or Bella as she is called, became very ill and contracted a virus in her brain. She stayed in intensive care for three weeks, and was given a less than 20% chance of survival. With lots of love and care, little Bella pulled through and has now grown into a beautiful and gentle tiger who is small in size, but big at heart.


Oliver was raised by Cat and Liz at a previous project, but got sent back to his owner at ten months old. He was left to fend for himself with nine other lions, and Cat and Liz were heartbroken, so as soon as Panthera Africa was born, they started the hard and testing process of getting their boy back! Now he is safely at Panthera Africa and will live out the rest of his days in prosperity.


Panthera Africa's founders, Cat and Liz, started their journey as volunteers in South Africa, so they understand how important this process is. For them, it was the beginning of a dream that resulted in the reality of Panthera Africa, and for others it is the holiday of a lifetime. They make sure that your experience is rewarding, fun and educational, giving you the perfect mixture of time looking after the animals, and time spent with the other volunteers and staff.

Hearing a lion roar up close, getting love and recognition from a leopard, hearing the chuffing of a tiger, or seeing them appreciate and love the toys you make to enrich their lives is an incredibly rewarding experience. During your time volunteering you will form close bonds with the animals, as well as friendships with other volunteers that will last a lifetime. At the end of the day you and the other volunteers can share your stories, hopes and dreams around the bonfire with a cold drink watching the famous African sunset.

During your trip you will be part of the Panthera Africa family and enjoy their modern yet cosy home. The house is situated in the middle of the property and consists of five small shared bedrooms with private bathrooms, and one private couple’s room. There is a big living area and dining room and a fully equipped kitchen for you to use. Breakfast and lunch will be provided for you, and at night you can cook your own meals or head into town to visit one of the amazing restaurants.

To find out more email Panthera Africa at:


Some travellers sadly lack the time to volunteer, however that doesn’t mean that they can’t support Panthera Africa and get to see the amazing wild cats up close. Their knowledgeable and passionate staff take you on a guided tour to introduce you to the animals and tell you their stories. This trip is an educational experience, as Panthera Africa are committed to spreading the word about the danger that big cats face, and what people can do to help with conservation and animal welfare efforts. Groups can also get involved in an Enrichment Program, where you can build fun environments and toys for the animals to enjoy.


As a non-profit organisation Panthera Africa rely on donations to keep going. You can choose whether you want your contribution to go towards food, supplies, maintenance and veterinary costs to make sure that the animals are healthy and safe; Enrichment Programs to make sure they are kept happy and inquisitive with new toys and new environments; Rescue Programs that actively save and relocate animals in captivity, or; adoption programs where you can sponsor your favourite animal directly. Panthera Africa are able to reward larger donations with everything from t shirts to volunteer experiences, but even the smallest donations are appreciated.


+27 76 9743088

+27 84 8662665

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