Charley Boorman Log- Day 9

June 18, 2012

In which Charley visits the awesome Shamwari Born Free Foundation. IMG_0633

I’m very excited today as we’re visiting the Born Free Foundation in the Shamwari Nature Reserve, where the fantastically friendly staff will show us around. The Foundation gives lions that have been mistreated in circuses and so on a good home to live out the rest of their lives.

As they were born in captivity and lack the ability to hunt, they can’t simply be set free, but this is the next best thing. They live in large enclosures in their natural habitat and are fed the correct food in the correct way.

As we enter, a sign by the gate warns us that riding motorbikes within the reserve is advised against, as the lions can hunt them instinctively. It reminds me of how a housecat will pounce on pretty much anything that moves – as does the way the lions pace back and forth when they know they’re about to get fed. The similarities last until the lions get aggressive and roar, when you get a hint of how powerful and dangerous they can be, which makes me feel all the more privileged to see them up close.

IMG_0992The next leg of our journey takes us from Port Elizabeth to King Wllimam’s Town (which includes traffic jams caused by crossing cattle). We arrive at the headquarters of the eRangers. These guys are fantastic. They supply scrambler bikes with specially made sidecars as mobile ambulances. They’ve made a real difference to the remote rural villages of South Africa and they tell me proudly that mortality rates for women in childbirth have fallen by as much as 60% in some areas. They also provide the operator of the bike with an income and important social standing in their communities.

Tomorrow, we’ll ride out with them out to Umtata to see their bikes in action, in the mean time, check out our video of the Shamwari Born Free Foundation.