We are often asked to co-operate in research or conservation projects or study ‘objects’ re. Conservation Ecology.
Twané Bester focused on the African wildcat as her project to finish off her studies at University Pretoria, and requested to use some footage.
Enjoy this video, starring a.o. our African wildcats Sid & Louise. The video was received well with a mark of 90% and Twané’s professor requested to use it as example for next year’s students. So well done! All attention for the small wildcatspecies is more than welcome!!!
On the 26th of March 2018, our black-footed cat female Lilly gave birth to another kitten. The second birth of this season, which is very normal for black footed cats. In September 2017 she gave birth to Lady & Lucky, who are still doing well, and this new kitten seems to be a girl as well, though isn’t officially sexed yet.
So far so good, and we are very happy, as the species is very rare and endangered, and very vulnerable to stress-related illnesses like kidney failure, why most of them die on young age. One of the essential conservation projects of Wild Cats World is focused on the Black-footed Cats.
A first glimpse of Olive, Solo, Beau & Bahati, the four young leopards born and (mother)raised at Wild Cats World, who in March this year were relocated for a (soft) release…… Founder/CEO of WCW, Babette de Jonge, went to visit (search for….) them, and these are the moments captured of the first glimpse, to show best the confirmed news that they are doing great (as expected) and are showing the exact right wild behaviour already. Esp. Solo and Olive turned very elusive and preferred to hide away for the vehicle….
They are in same territory as a rehabilitated wild male ( with Olive) and 2 wild females, Phoenix & Cleo (with the three boys).
For who said “you can’t”….we only want to say: “yes we can!!!” Thanks to all involved on our great journey to get the bigger and better for all cats, and have many released or free roaming in near future!!
Check this out – Amazing jewellery for sale, featuring the species we fight for in our S.A. project (and other places)…..like the leopard and caracal.
Buying these jewellery means supporting Wild Cats World, 20% of the profits will go to our charity to do even better for the wild cats.
For this conservationist, there is only one way to start her day – by hanging out with leopards.
Babette De Jonge, 50, founded Wild Cats World in 2011 to help conserve endangered big cats, such as leopards and African wild cats.
Based in Kirkwood, South Africa, the sanctuary is home to four leopards, and one cub, cheetahs, servals, caracals, African wildcats, Africa’s smallest cat – the black-footed cat and a group of 8 feral cats.
By building up a mutual respect with the leopards – who were rescued from exploitation – Babette has been able to work hands on with them during their rehabilitation.
Babette told Barcroft TV: “I just go in naturally and I see how they behave and if it’s nice and fine, I’m staying. If not, I go out and the game is over.
“It’s nice to go in and they come to you and greet you. They give you a rub, sometimes they spray you. I just respect them, I’m not afraid to go in with them to keep this special bond.
“They are always playful or naughty, but not aggressive, never. If they were, I don’t think I’d go in anymore!”
Babette is passionate about providing the best forever home and care for the cats, as well as supporting endangered species with essential conservation programs, but she does not encourage others to interact hands on with big cats.
She said: “The rescues were four leopards, Feline, her brother Felix, another male Felipe and his female Felicia.
“For years, I was just an average animal lover. When I started to volunteer at sanctuaries, I thought, well there are certain things I really don’t like – how animals are being kept, how they are treated.
“So I thought I’d like to make it better for them, so we decided to put our project up here.”
Babette has rescued cats from canned hunting, exploitative petting centres and trapped or orphaned in the wild.
The conservationist said: “Feline, is an African leopard. We got her in 2011 when she was born. She was at a breeding farm, who took her away from her mother.
“I saw how she just had to interact with people, that’s why we brought her here with a better enclosure. We took her brother, so we sort of rescued him to be company for her.
“There’s a few rescue animals and a few, also ‘rescues’, but they’re more like born in captivity. They were born for trade, and for abuse and for the hunting – canned hunting – so that’s why we rescued them and brought them here to give them a better life.”
The rescues at the sanctuary include wild caracal kittens that were orphaned after a farmer shot their mother.
Sanctuary employee Zanell McCarthy added: “Every cat has a very different personality, like one can be very loving, one can be very playful, some are a bit calmer than others. You cannot really compare one cat to another.
“It’s just something you cannot describe to someone, the bond that you build up with these animals is just amazing.
“If you see the power that these animals have and the way that they play with each other, you see how strong they are.
“You must always be careful for the behaviour, you can check when they’re going to be naughty but it’s all play. I don’t ever feel intimidated by them.”
Babette ensures that their diet is as close to what it would be in the wild, so they feed on game meat, like e.g. impala, zebra, full prey like rabbit and sometimes a whole chicken.
The conservationist’s ultimate goal is to release the animals into the wild for who possible and, for those animals that must stay in captivity, she aims to release them into huge enclosures to give them an experience as close to the wild as possible. This is phase II and has already started.
Zanell said: “People think it’s like the king of the jungle, or that they’re the most aggressive animals, but they’re not. They’re actually very gentle animals – they’re very misunderstood.”
The four rescued leopards have now been relocated to Mpumalanga Province at Ubhetyan OAfrica for soft release back into the wild. And they are doing great! National Park is interested to release 7 leopards from Ubethyan, including the ones from WCW.
Babette said: “Cats in general, whether they’re domestic or very small or very big, I’m just attracted to their looks and also to the way they’re so independent but also so loving.
“The way they just look over you, like they’re the rulers of the world – I love that, it’s just great.”
BARCROFT MEDIA, STUDIO 14, SHOREDITCH STABLES, 138 KINGSLAND ROAD, LONDON, E2 8DY 0207 033 1030
A life dedicated to leopards – being tolerated close to them in every stage of their life.
Babette de Jonge (Founder/CEO Wild Cats World/Wild Cats Magazine) keeps on investing in what’s best for them, backed up by her life partner and 2 great caretakers, taking care of the wild cats in S.A. when Babette (and partner) cannot be present.
Focus is now mainly on the African leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) since phase I started of a release program, for youngsters Olive, Solo, Beau & Bahati.
Babette has an unbreakable bond with the leopards, started from the rescue of 4 adult leopards from hunting/exploiting farms, and leopard Felicia’s life from bad treatment and wrong diagnose by the vet.
An unbreakable bond, that doesn’t go without saying: leopards are predators and only meant to be. They are also treated as such. Our project wasn’t meant to be a petting project, but from start this is a true conservation project. A conservation project with different angles, which so far seem very successful: introductions of (un-related) cubs/adults (m/f), showing the social side of the leopards, Rescue, Rehabilitation, Breeding, Relocation, (Soft) releasing…………..Caring and Loving all the way!
Babette: “peope often told me ‘I can’t’ or ‘I won’t’ but so far the WCW project is still going strong.
I am grateful and humble that the leopards still allow me close during every stage of their life: growing up, eating, getting (sexually) mature, starting mating, having litters with healthy cubs, during the care of their cubs, up til the re-wilding and so far (soft) release of the first young leopards born with us and ready for the wild. The ultimate thing would be a successful release in National park or Private Game Reserve, but even if that wouldn’t become reality, we can say we succeeded with this project and contributing to the species, which is vulnerable but the way it goes soon very endangered. So it seems more that the ones having said ‘you can’t” or “you won’t” are probably the ones scared that “we will”
We can say fully YES to this. Just for the many people who contact us regularly, how they can start a facility, how they can keep big or wild cats, if we want to sponsor meat for their cats?
Just for the ones, who will always be there, having a say…..here’s something to realize, and yes please do compare with all other “ethical” projects. And please think twice before starting with a facility, or with big/wild cats, as honestly after reading this? Do you love the cats as much as we do? Willing to sacrifice everything?
With our relatively small facility, which we intentionally have (with gratitude to) on other’s land/farms and not our own (if you see the expenses below, you will understand we don’t want to waste money on anything other than the cats and their welfare), we monthly have expenses, which we foremost pay from our own pockets, the owners working hard every day in honest jobs to make this possible.
The donations we receive, will, as you will understand now, solely used to give us a bit of a break every now and then. So….donations always welcome….Volunteers pay for their own accommodation (provided by us) and own expenses/stay; they don’t pay us, so no exploit there as where WCW is concerned! And no exploit of the animals…no Trade, so no income over their backs as for having them petted, selling cubs/kittens (the ones that leave, are donated to the wild or exchanged for fresh blood, if with a equal good project).
To start constructing decent enclosures/camps, like we have for the current cats, which give enough space to the cats to be happy and to thrive well, be active and even breed well (when allowed for higher purposes). Even though we at any time want more, and look for the best possibilities.
The start sum was over SAR 3 million (in a bad time as for rate of currency to euros) …..leopards being most expensive of all projects at the same place, as for the required construction by Officials. Remember: own pockets, apart from a few donations.
Then the cats do eat….a lot daily. Big cats mainly game meat, but also occasional treats like rabbits, or complete prey (even game) with skin….count on SAR 20400 each month, even with one day donated chicken included; nice for a treat but not the best food to give daily.
Small cats also eat game meat, but also need a diversity of other meat or prey: rabbits, birds, mice, rats, chicken or meat-parts (hearts, liver, chickennecks, drumsticks..) separately bought…we don’t breed them to feed them, so this gives also expenses of R 8100 monthly.
Then there’s monthly vetbills, wages of the caretaker, accommodation costs to give a home to the caretaker and volunteers, flights of the owners regularly checking up on the project and cats welfare, or to investigate better opportunities, car for transport caretaker/volunteers/owners, treat (meal) to caretaker or volunteers as a ‘thank you’…..
DO WE LOVE OUR CATS??? Yes and honestly is there someone who loves them as much as we do? And then not in words or in slandering people who try their utmost to do the best possible?
We love the cats enough to even let them go wild and free, as that is for some species our ultimate mission; that is ultimate ethical conservation!!!
All donations or sponsoring are welcome, but to start with everybody starting a project shouldn’t have to beg for money……start a facility and the best care of these animals, only if you can afford it….and if YOU are able to give them the best, are willing to give them the best, without having to constantly beg!
As for transparency: People in doubt to sponsor or donate, are welcome to invest directly (so e.g. by paying expenses straight to the meat deliver, vet or constructor themselves, receiving the invoice).
Remember at any time the FIVE FREEDOM’S in animal care, outlining five essential aspects of animal welfare under human control.
-Wild Cats World-
A Dutch foundation trying to survive and do what’s best for the cats in South Africa, and world-wide.