New rescues arrive at Drakenstein Lion Park in South Africa

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Drakenstein Lion Park

New Rescues Arrive – 10-12-2009

Perita, Aneta and Suzanna arrived at the sanctuary late afternoon on 10-12-2009 after an epic journey from Romania. Their rescue and relocation was plagued by logistical problems, they were expected to arrive on 2nd December, but had to turn back shortly after the start of their journey. Frantic arrangements were made to reschedule for arrival on 9th December, but this also had to be postponed for a day later. We all breathed a great sigh of relief when they finally arrived!

The three lionesses come from an impoverished Romanian zoo where a multitude of lions are crammed into small 4 x 4 meter concrete jails (pictured below).

We were contacted in March this year and asked provide to sanctuary to as many lions from the zoo as we could. Unfortunately we were only able to offer sanctuary to three of the lions housed at the zoo as financial constraints prevented us from taking more. Arrangements were subsequently made to relocated the remainder of the lions to a zoo in the UK and the zoo in question managed to raise 1.5 million rand to cover their costs, unfortunately our fundraising efforts did not enjoy the same media attention.

http://www.lionrescue.org.za/news31.htm

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

Miss World contestants pose with lion cubs, cheetahs in South Africa

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NOTE: Learn more about the “play with cubs” industry in South Africa here: http://www.lionrescue.org.za/playwithcubs.htm

Gibraltar’s Kaiane Aldorino named new Miss World at glittering pageant

By: NKEMELENG NKOSI
Associated Press
12/12/09 11:38 PM PST JOHANNESBURG

JOHANNESBURG — Kaiane Aldorino from Gibraltar was named the new Miss World at a glittering two-hour pageant that put South Africa in the spotlight and featured traditional dancers and drummers.

The leggy brunette, dressed in white-lace evening gown, was crowned as silver confetti rained down onstage around her. She clapped her hands to her mouth when her name was announced.

“I have no words,” she said when asked to describe how she felt. “I am really happy.”

The 23-year-old administrative clerk from the British territory on the tip of the Iberian peninsula was a crowd favorite after winning the swimsuit competition.

She joined seven other contestants in the final round of the show. The loudest cheers were reserved for Miss South Africa, Tatum Keshwar who was the second runner-up.

First runner-up was Miss Mexico, Perla Beltran Acosta.

Aldorino did not give an indication of what her immediate plans were now that she had won the prestigious title.

“I will try to do the best that I can now that I have opportunity and advantage,” she said in a brief interview with The Associated Press after the event.

Gibraltar, known as The Rock, is a quirky, multicultural British outpost of 30,000 people, most of whom speak perfect Spanish and even own property along Spain’s southern Mediterranean coast. An estimated 12,000 people cross over from Spain daily to work and many more to visit.

Spain ceded sovereignty of Gibraltar to Britain in a 1713 treaty, but has persistently sought its return, claiming the territory as a natural and historic part of its geography. The outcropping is in the Strait of Gibraltar, for centuries a strategic waterway linking the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Wearing her crown of tiny jeweled blue flowers, Aldorino said had been impressed with South Africa, which was hosting its seventh Miss World final.

“It has a lot to offer,” she said.

South Africa is taking advantage of the world’s attention as the country gears up to host the World Cup in June.

Saturday’s show, which was televised across the world, gave a taste of South Africa’s rich cultural heritage and natural attractions.

The 112 contestants were welcomed at the start by Zulu dancers and the ululating African female performers. There were clips from the finalists time in South Africa — showing the beauties cuddling cheetahs and lions, on pristine white beaches and even playing soccer.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for South Africa to showcase that they can host a world-class event and also a great tourist opportunity to show off the best that South Africa has in store,” Keshwar said.

http://www.sfexaminer.com/world/gibraltars-kaiane-aldorino-named-new-miss-world-at-glittering-pageant-79155522.html

See more photos here: http://missworld.joburgtourism.com/default.asp?id=50

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

South Africans look into illegal lion breeding

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afrol News, 27 November – The illegal captive breeding and holding of lions on private farms is becoming a problem in South Africa. Under the protest of wildlife authorities and environmental groups, a growing number of lions are bred in captivity to be exposed to “canned hunting” in South Africa and abroad.

Only today, six lions arrived at a wildlife sanctuary for safekeeping after officials of the Department of Finance & Economic Development (Branch Environmental Affairs) along with the South African Police Services, (Organised Crime Unit), confiscated them from a privately owned game farm in the Limpopo Province. Warrants to seize, confiscate and remove the lions were issued by a local magistrate.

A spokesperson for the Department said that an application for a permit to import, hold and breed the lions in Limpopo Province had been declined. Despite the department’s refusal the applicant went ahead and brought the lions into the Limpopo Province from the Free State, where he has already establish another lion breeding project.

The farmer will now be charged for the illegal import, holding and breeding of lions and could face a fine of up to rand 15 000.00 per animal, if found guilty by a court of law. The lions – a black maned male, two adult females and three cubs – meanwhile have settled down well and will remain at the sanctuary until the legal process will determine their fate.

In the Limpopo Province in the north-eastern part of South Africa, there are quite a few lions being held in captive breeding projects illegally, activists say. The Limpopo Department of Finance says it will proceed to charge individuals concerned.

A new holding facility for large predators has even been constructed and this is to allow the Department to “more effectively remove illegally held animals and charge the offenders.” A spokesperson said that “the irresponsible disregard for conservation laws will not be tolerated any longer” and that his department is ready to step up their law enforcement efforts.

One of the lionesses captured today was reported to be pregnant and it was established that both the adult females had already given birth to cubs, which had been removed to be hand raised. The farm manager’s wife claimed that neither of the lionesses could produce milk and they had no choice, but to remove the cubs for hand rearing.

A spokesperson for the sanctuary questioned this and strongly condemned the practise of lion breeding where very small cubs are removed off their mothers soon after birth and said that it is common practise amongst lion breeders to remove cubs from their mother to allow the female to come into oestrus sooner so that she can produce more cubs.

Lions are being bred at larger numbers in South Africa as the country increasingly becomes a destination for wildlife tourists. In addition to South Africa’s many world famous national parks, the country also has a multitude of private parks and wildlife reserves, many of which offer the paying tourist hunting opportunities. Lion hunting remains the ultimate experience for many.

Thus, an industry of “canned hunting” has grown in South Africa, parallel to trends in other wildlife and hunting destinations. A so-called “canned hunt” takes place on a fenced piece of private property where a hunter can pay a fee to shoot a captive animal, which has been raised in captivity.

In South Africa, private “game parks” have specialised on the canned hunting of lions and rhinoceroses – the two animals fetching the highest “hunting” fees worldwide. Some shooting preserves charge up to US$ 20,000 for a lion or a rhinoceros.

Although canned hunting is a “promising industry”, South African wildlife and tourism authorities have found this practice difficult to combine with the country’s otherwise positive image. Already in 1997, the international Cooke Report exposed unethical lion hunting practises in South Africa and authorities promised to react.

Since that, however, various animals’ rights and welfare groups have slammed the South African government’s lack of action to stop the practise of breeding lions in captivity to supply a growing demand from trophy hunters. However a new policy governing the utilization and management of large predators has recently been government gazetted.

Louise Joubert of the SanWild Wildlife Trust comments that despite pressure by international animals’ welfare groups that have cashed in on the canned lion hunting industry the problem remains to be solved by the South African authorities. She welcomed this move and said that “it is time that the blatant disregard for conservation laws in South Africa is dealt with decisively and immediately.”

By staff writers

http://www.afrol.com/articles/10634

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

South Africa: Tourists sue Sanbona safari park after too-close encounter with lions

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November 19, 2009

Chris Smyth and Sadie Gray

Eight British tourists are suing a South African safari park after they became trapped by a pride of wild lions when their tour vehicle overturned.

The group are claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds for injuries and post-traumatic stress allegedly suffered when they were exposed to the “threatening conduct of the lions” at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve northeast of Cape Town.

One of the animals also stole a boot from the tourists, they say.

Papers lodged at Cape Town High Court claim that the injuries were due to the irresponsible actions of Natasha Van der Merwe, a park employee.

According to the papers, the vehicle she was driving toppled over as she tried to reverse away from a pride of lions in March 2007.

The lions then approached the stranded tourists, causing them distress.

Richard Cornish, from Wimbledon,southwest London, who was on a honeymoon with his wife Sandy, suffered concussion, three broken ribs and internal bleeding during the accident, the papers claim. His wife suffered “severe shock and anguish”.

Other members of the group say that they suffered heavy bruises and post- traumatic stress disorder and are claiming a total of £582,000 for loss of income and medical bills.

One of the group said yesterday: “The lions were about a metre and a half from us, and one went off with my boot.”

Michael Hawker, 71, from Solihull, said: “The whole experience was terrifying and frightening, and I’ll do anything to make sure nobody like us has to go through that again. We were lucky it wasn’t worse — it could have happened to people with children.”

The group was eventually driven to safety by another vehicle.

Along with the Cornishes and Mr Hawker, the group includes Mr Hawker’s wife Patricia, Charles and Fiona Buck, from Chiddingfold, Surrey, and David and Susan Shearman from Highbury, North London.

A spokesman for the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve said that it would fight the claim in court. Acting Judge Alasdair Sholto-Douglas has postponed the case until February.

The reserve, which is three hours’ drive from Cape Town, charges up to £740 per night and is one of the largest privately owned game reserves in South Africa.

It offers dawn and dusk tours of its 54,000 hectares (210 sq miles) at the foot of the Warmwaterberg mountains, led by a qualified ranger and using open-topped Landcruisers to give tourists a view of the birds and big game.

The reserve claims to have the only free-roaming pride of white lions in the region after a successful programme to reintroduce the species into the area. Sanbona also boasts black rhinos, elephants, hippos, giraffes, cheetahs and leopards, and is a protected habitat for the endangered riverine rabbit.

Safari holidays are not without their dangers. In 2006 Patrick Smith, 34, of London, was trampled to death by an elephant while on his honeymoon in the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya. He was with a guide and only 300m from their camp.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6922448.ece

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

PHOTOS: Lion opens door of tourists’ car at South Africa safari park

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By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:07 AM on 16th November 2009

With a 300lb lion in the offing, the couple visiting the safari park could at least console themselves that they had the protection of their car.

They watched in glee as the big cat padded up to their white Toyota.

Then fascination turned to terror as the creature calmly took the rear-door handle between its teeth … and pulled it open.

For several seconds the car remained immobile as its occupants sat in stunned disbelief. Then the driver pulled away, with the lion in hot pursuit.

It chased its quarry all the way to the gates, where a game warden threw a stone to shoo it back into the enclosure.

The drama was played out at Lion Safari Park in Johannesburg, South Africa, and captured on camera by British tourist Richard Holden, who was in the car behind.

At the start of the trail, visitors are warned to lock windows and doors and take off all removable items such as aerials.

But Mr Holden, 32, an engineer, who was on holiday with wife Candice, 32, a teacher, and their two-year-old daughter Faye, said the car in front had obviously left the doors unlocked.

Since the lions at the park are fed every day, there is little chance that the Toyota couple would have been eaten.

‘But they must have been panicking because they didn’t drive off straight away,’ said Mr Holden, from Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. ‘If that had been me, I would have hit the gas.’

At the start of the trail, visitors are warned to lock windows and doors and take off all removable items such as aerials.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1228099/Well-perfectly-safe-darling–Its-lions-open-car-doors-.html?ITO=1490

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org