Shamwari Born Free – Big Cat and Wildlife Sanctuaries

Would you want to experience wildlife in a luxurious manner? The Shamwari Private Game Reserve has just what you are looking for. From Adventure tented camps to luxurious accommodation, experience their wildlife rehabilitation initiatives and an unforgettable wildlife safari.

Shamwari Born Free – Big Cat and Wildlife Sanctuaries
Photo by Wiki Commons (source).

76.5km via the N2 from the Port Elizabeth Airport you will find the Shamwari Private Game Reserve. Based near Paterson in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The Shamwari Private Game Reserve has taken their passion for conservation to the next level with their latest developments.

Top 10 Reasons To Visit South Africa.

“ Our love and concern for animals should go beyond those within our personal environment. We should see the world as a whole, see nature in its entirety and realize the importance of humans being part of the animal world and animals being part of theirs. It is only in this way that we can prevent the complete destruction of our environment and perhaps, ultimately, of ourselves.” 

– by Virginia McKenna OBE

About Shamwari

Shamwari On YouTube.

​Shamwari, the word meaning “my friend” in Shona. Awarded the Global Nature Fund Award in 2005, to being voted the worlds leading Safari and Game Reserve. Home to the Big 5, it is known for its luxurious wildlife experiences, and world-class conservation practices.

For the past 25 years, Shamwari has put in every effort into taking conservation to the next level. From their Private Game Reserve to Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers and rescuing wildlife from all over the world. Funded by both Shamwari and The Born Free Foundation for the advancement of conservation.

With so much good being done by the Reserve and involved parties. They have made every effort to expand and raise funds through their luxury accommodations and adventurous explorer camp. With a large range to choose from, to ensure you have the best experience of wildlife, safaris, and conservation combined with luxury accommodation.

Yes, Shamwari offers a once in a lifetime experience for kids of all ages with their “Kids on Safari” program. This being said the experience is not only a luxurious way of getting to observe the wildlife in their natural habitat but has activities for the whole family.

Before we continue, you can take a look at rates, reviews, and availability for Shamwari at TripAdvisor below.

Born Free Foundation

Born Free Foundation On YouTube.

​Since 1984, the dedicated founders and members have been working tirelessly. To ensure all the wild animals, whether living in captivity or the wild, would be treated with both compassion and respect. They work all over the world to preserve and protect wildlife in their natural habitat. Finding compassionate conservation solutions where both humans & wildlife can co-exist peacefully.

You too can support the cause from as little as £3 per month by visiting their website here. Become a supporting member, save a life & adopt an animal today.

“If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.” 

– by Steve Irwin 

Part of Shamwari is the Private Game Reserve, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, and the two Big Cat Sanctuaries. I will be elaborating on my experience of the Julie Ward Center.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit the Julie Ward center. A special thanks to Craig Dunes AcademyTry Me 4 Tours Shuttle and the adventurous Vet Nurse Students from Plumpton College (UK).

Not knowing what to expect, being the driver of 16 vet nurse students. I had no idea it would turn out to be an amazing trip. Seeing that the Julie Ward center was an experience so timeless and memorable. I still need to make a second visit to experience the Jean Byrd center.

About Julie Ward

Kenya Citizen TV On YouTube.

​The tale of Julie Ward is a sad one indeed but it has brought a new life to many lions and leopards and various other wildlife, her end brought forth a new life-changing beginning to these animals. 

Julie was a British wildlife photographer that had been visiting Africa since early 1985, falling in love with the wildlife in various parts of Africa little did anyone know that the six months trans Africa adventure in 1988 would be her last.

Days before she was set to return home the unfortunate event unfolded in Kenya (Julie Ward Murder). Eight years after the brutal murder of Julie Ward, the born free foundation rescued lions from a Tenerife Restaurant where they were kept in a cage on the rooftop.

Late Julie’s mother got to hear about the rescue and was moved by the story. After hearing about the story she decided to get in touch with the Born Free Foundation and started a campaign to raise funds in aid of opening a Lion Sanctuary in Africa.

Selling some of Julies photographs a large contribution was made to start the Julie Ward Center. Even still today the center needs donations and support in order to keep saving these precious “Big Cats” and give them a new life, you can even adopt one of them here. ​

“Humankind must begin to learn that the life of an animal is in no way less precious than our own.” 

– by Paul Oxton

Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries

Shamwari On YouTube.

All of these mighty animals have been rescued from all over the world, circuses, private owners and even after being abandoned once removed from the wild. All the stories at Born Free have a sad and unfortunate start to them but they have all happy endings.

Born Free Cat Sanctuary has given these precious beasts a second chance at life, although still in captivity they have the freedom to roam in their natural habitat and at the same time protected from the dangers of wildlife they never knew. 

“Every creature was designed to serve a purpose. Learn from animals for they are there to teach you the way of life. There is a wealth of knowledge that is openly accessible in nature. Our ancestors knew this and embraced the natural cures found in the bosoms of the earth. Their classroom was nature. They studied the lessons to be learned from animals. Much of human behavior can be explained by watching the wild beasts around us. They are constantly teaching us things about ourselves and the way of the universe, but most people are too blind to watch and listen.” 

– by Suzy Kassem

The Big Cats At The Julie Ward Center

​All these mighty animals have a cruel and heartbreaking story to tell, taking a brief look at their stories. Introducing the “Big Cats” at the Julie Ward Center, to get their full stories I would recommend taking the trip and experiencing it for yourself. 

Images are obtained from the Born Free website. A link to the full list of “Mighty Beasts” at both centers are available at the bottom of this article.
“Why are they still in captivity?” you may ask, each and every one of these animals have been given a second chance in life. Releasing them back into the wild, most of them would not survive on their own or to face the dangers of other wild animals.

Born Free has given them the freedom of what the South African bush can offer in a safe and secure environment. The freedom to roam as they please in their own camps. Chances are you won’t be able to see all of them. Their privacy is respected by the staff of born free and is up to the animals if they want the attention or not.

Brutus, Shamwari, Born Free Foundation

Brutus (lion) – 18 years.

Brutus was rescued from a circus where he spent most of his life living in a 2-meter cage in France and started his new life at Born Free early 2008.

Jerry, Shamwari, Born Free Foundation

Jerry (lion) – 18 years.

In 2007 Jerry along with his Mother & Brother were rescued from a zoo in Romania. Sadly both Jerry’s Mother & Brother are no longer with us. ​

Nelson, Shamwari, Born Free Foundation

Nelson (lion) – 19 years.

Also being rescued from a zoo in France after the zoo fell into liquidation & the owner was arrested for wildlife trafficking, Nelson started his Born Free journey in 2017. 

Shamwari, Born Free Foundation

Maggie & Sonja (lion) – 13 years.

After being confiscated from a circus in 2015 where both Maggie & her sister Soja were living in a cramped trailer they both got given a second chance at life. 

Queen, Shamwari, Born Free Foundation

Queen (lion) – 22 years.

Spending most of her life as a breeding farm lioness & after many attempts to rehabilitate Queen to release her into the wild failed, she was given a new start in 2015 at Born Free. 

Sinbad, Shamwari, Born Free Foundation

Sinbad (lion) – 18 years.

Rescued from a zoo in Romania after being used as a “photo prop” for tourists most of his life, Sinbad had been given the freedom he deserved thanks to Born Free in 2007.

Sami, Shamwari, Born Free Foundation

Sami (leopard) – 18 years.

Along with her Brother & Sister were found abandoned in the Sudanese Bush. Four months at the time of rescue, Born Free had given them a new chance at life. 

A full list of Saved “Big Cats” at both centers available here. ​

“Wild life surprises you when you least expect it” 

– by Mohamedibrahim 


Experiencing Shamwari, one of the most luxurious experiences when it comes to wildlife, conservation, and family traveling activities.

This was by far one of the closest encounters I have ever had with a Lion in its natural habitat. Hearing the mighty roar of a lion less than 5 meters away just cut straight through your body, just a reality check that they should be respected for what they are.

Whenever you are traveling to South Africa this will have to be on your bucket list of things to do. With many other Wildlife Sanctuaries and Private Game Reserves to choose from, each being unique in its own way I have added a list below.

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