I, like a host of travel industry colleagues, wildlife enthusiasts and celebrity patrons, was thrilled to follow the unfurling story of two lions being rescued from a dilapidated zoo and a private owner in France. This heart warming story of saving two-and-a-half year old Ciam and seventeen year-old Nelson from their lives in captivity — Ciam as a caged exotic pet and Nelson from a bankrupt zoo — proved an engaging, inspiring rescue story with the power of social media providing a step-by-step commentary of their incredible journey. From France, via Frankfurt and Johannesburg, to Port Elizabeth and their forever homes at the Big Cat Sanctuaries at Shamwari Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of Southern Africa, an army of online supporters was able to share in the story of their real-time rescue and release. The conclusion being a truly beautiful scene and one which resonates, motivates and galvanises people all across the world – wild animals returned to land of their ancestral home to live out their lives in space and in peace #BeyondtheBars.
Having been privileged enough to stay at Shamwari Private Game Reserve back in 2007 (my first ever safari experience), I am thrilled to witness yet another powerful and successful story of their collaboration with The Born Free Foundation. Through combining luxury tourism with conservation and vital education, Shamwari has championed responsible tourism and galvanised support for ‘wildlife in the wild’ #livewild, including rescuing lions and leopards from around the world. Their teams of committed staff and passionate campaigners embody an ethos of care and education, with dedicated Rangers engaging and enthralling guests, whether they be adults, children, royalty or celebrities alike.
With its location close to Port Elizabeth and malaria-free status, Shamwari Private Game Reserve is ideal to combine with a self-drive holiday along the famous ‘Garden Route’ of South Africa. Its selection of family-friendly lodges, Long Lee Manor and sensational Eagles Crag Lodge also make it attractive to families, honeymooners and first-time safari-goers — something which can be testified by a host of international and VIP visitors. For those who wish to take their passion for wildlife a little further, the lodge also offers professional photography safaris, adventurous Explorer Camps and volunteer programmes which go beyond a more typical safari experience.
With the affiliation of inspirational actress and conservationist, Virginia McKenna, founder of The Born Free Foundation, and loyal patrons such as Jim Moir and Nancy Sorrell, in addition to a plethora of high-profile visitors, such as Stuart Broad, the future looks promising for Shamwari and all the vital work it is involved with (Rhinoceros protection being a key focus). Whilst there is still a mountain of work to do, the current cultural trend for increasing awareness, and seeing animals within their natural environment, undoubtedly helps. The popularity and sentiment behind Paul O’Grady’s ‘For The Love of Animals’ series highlights both the ongoing challenges and unsung heroes who work tirelessly behind the scenes and the cessation of ‘Dancing Bears’ in India and rescue of some ex-logging elephants in Thailand, are just two wonderful and positive stories that have touched a nerve with viewers and tourists recently.
With a world-class animal Rehabilitation Centre and anti-poaching units expertly trained to protect a host of wildlife, this award-winning wildlife reserve deserves a multitude of plaudits for their conservation and Fair Trade Tourism work. As this year celebrates a very special milestone for Shamwari Private Game Reserve — its 25th Anniversary — we at Elegant Resorts are proud to see Shamwari shine. With its ambitious plans for an exciting expansion and further development next year, we’re sure that it will remain the ‘Pride of the Cape’ and continue to inspire stories that uplift the soul.
To find more inspiration for your perfect safari experience, or to learn about the options available for families please read our related safari blogs. Alternatively, please speak to our expert Travel Consultants on 01244 897 182 as they would be delighted to discuss the various lodges and specialist game viewing available.