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.
Here’s the first pictures of the amazing leopards Olive, Beau, Bahati and Solo in their new huge camp, Phase I of their re-wilding programme, though the people involved instantly saw the wild already is truly in them.
The four young leopards were born in our facility, with the sole purpose of being released, and it is only because of Eastern Cape Officials not granting permits to the Private Game Reserves to release (our) leopards, uncastrated that is, this process did take longer than expected.
A few “sanctuaries” were contacted but were as expected not interested in true leopard conservation or well- being, but just on personal grudges & gain, and small talk, for which we are very grateful as a brand new door opened with the best of space for the leopards, and a new chance for a release in a National Park and Private Game Reserve that already showed interest.
Phase I is to relocate the four to a new place that offered the best of wild space, where they will stay without any human interference for the coming time.
So amazing and touching to see the four beauties, who have been born and raised at our place, in their new area, showing true leopard behaviour. How wonderful having to search for them, and get a glimpse. A dream coming true, and a huge step forward to reach our actual mission.
Of course we know that at any time, all have a say, and there’s always negative people around, who try to make something so beautiful look ugly. This doesn’t affect us though, and for sure doesn’t affect the leopards, who had a wonderful life already growing up with a loving leopard family, in our best care, and now received the ultimate proof of our love for them: a way to freedom. So let’s hope this will be as good as we all hope and think it will be.
Everything needs time and lots of funds, but rest assured that we always do what we promise, and the next promise is to the remaining leopards and other species in our care, we only reach for the ultimate improvement for them as well!!!
WILD CATS WORLD FOR THE WILD CATS!!!
The four young leopards born and raised (by their mothers/parents) at Wild Cats World have been successfully relocated to a huge re-wilding (phase I) camp in Mpumalanga Province, where lots of rehabilitation and releasing of leopards already had been done. Happy to say Olive, Solo, Beau & Bahati are settling in nicely, but we didn’t expect anything else of a highly adaptable species like the leopard. For the first re-wilding they will stay here, and the next step will be relocation to a huge boma in the National Park en Private Game Reserves (non-hunting) that showed interest in them already.
The project is named Phoenix-four, after the wild female 11 months old Phoenix. She has been rehabilitated and will be joining our leopards for further re-wilding. But she indeed is truly wild already. Plan for now is to have her with the 2 B’s, Olive will be with a rehabilitated gorgeous male and Solo with a gorgeous wild female…. All suitable leopards will be released in the wild again.
This is all made possible with the incredible help and dedication from a wonderful team. First of all CJ and Paul from Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation (WHWF), Deon, Onderstepoort vets and University Pretoria. Without all of them we, Dutch, wouldn’t be able to make this possible. So very grateful for this. Dreams coming true now!
In short the (one and only true) story of the Phoenix-Four: the 4 youngsters have been born at our project with sole purpose to be released. Their parents we rescued from a hunting list and exploited life, and we gave them the best life possible. These human-raised leopards gave birth and raised successfully the youngsters who are much wilder already than the parents, but will in the coming time be wild enough for a release. They show the right behaviour already. With our project we wanted to reach the unthinkable (for many…) as for rescue of exploited leopards, bonding with them closely, having them live peacefully as a group, with still huge respect to the owner and caretaker through every stage. Raising the cubs successfully, who are ready to go wild. Only one more stage and our mission is complete!!!!!!
Keep following the leopards!!!! Remember: if this all succeeds, THERE’S HOPE FOR THE SPECIES!!! And isn’t that what we all want???
Conservation of the smallest (spotted) cat of South Africa, second smallest of the world, is extremely essential. So we are glad to be part of this. Our cats (couple and kittens) will be part of the BFC stress measurement, the research done by/for University of Pretoria. This because there’s such a huge decline in captive black footed cats the last few years, and poor to no breeding results (in South Africa, but also in Europe). Also the wild species is under threat. For a year samples will be collected and taken to the lab for further investigation, and it will be compared to samples of the wild black footed cats. We can only learn more about this species, and have to do our best to save it and have the numbers increased again.
It is a male & a female….
28/12/2017: Our black footed cat kittens, 13 weeks old, are now officially sexed. Like it already crossed our mind, it is one boy and one girl. So: if anyone has a great suggestion for appropriate names??? We are still thinking ourselves too….Names of the parents are Lilly & Spotty, we also had black-footed cats named Diva, Beauty, Blacky & Footy….so names a bit short and appropriate for the smallest cats(species) of South Africa.
Thanks to our volunteer Julia Nietsbert for this wonderful picture of our two treasures.
With the end of another year coming close, I like to look back on the year 2017 and look ahead to a brandnew year 2018. Looking back on 2017, we look back with mixed feelings. On the whole we had a good and stable year. Highlights were the births at our leopards, servals and black-footed cats. The females Feline, Felicia, Joy and Lilly being excellent mommies, and also the daddies Felix, Felipe, Norrick and Spotty proved to be proud and caring daddies. Like in every year we sadly also had to say goodbye to a few beloved cats. This year we had to loose African wildcat male Max, serval daddy Norrick, who lived 8 months longer after proper treating his kidney failure, but sadly a second blow was too much and we had to let him go. A huge loss was also to loose black-footed cat female Diva; cause of death: ehrlychia, which mostly occurs with dogs caused by the brown tick. R.i.p. to all three who touched our hearts and will never be forgotten.
Major setback for us and the leopard Conservation project in S.A. was to get confirmed Nature Conservation Officials won’t grant permits to the Private game Reserves Amakhala, Kariega and also not to Shamwari, to release (our) leopards. This caused a problem for us, since we did breed with the leopards for release and they were actually “ordered” to be released. So now I had to carefully think and plan ahead. The big question was: how to continue with the leopards and Leopard Conservation Program. Also for the Javan Leopard in the Release Program there were still no releases possible. This all is a very sad situation for the leopard and for us wanting the best for all leopard species who are under threat.
This setback won’t keep us from doing what’s best for the leopards, and we will continue to fight for their welfare and contribute to their survival. Priority is now to find a next-best forever home for the young leopards, since a release isn’t very likely anymore, even though we keep trying in other Provinces. We did look around to see what the options were, and also asked a few sanctuaries if they could help out. Sadly for leopards it is very difficult to find the right place, as we only settle for the best of course. BUT…..I am happy to say, 2018 might turn out to be a very good and interesting year for us after all, with new hopes and possibilities for the leopards and our projects in S.A. I will start investigating the offered space and opportunities in January, and I must say I am very exited and passionate to do so.
So watch this space for up-dates on this any time soon. For the young leopards this for sure will be the best solution, and who knows in the end still a life in the wild is within their reach. Very close to that anyway!! In 2018 I will also make some changes in the continuation of the other projects we are involved in with Wild Cats World. More about that also soon on this website.
For now I like to wish you all a very Merry X-mas and all the best for the New Year. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for all your support, in every way, and for following Wild Cats World, all projects and beloved cats and species. We keep in touch!!!
Babette de Jonge
Founder/CEO Wild Cats World