Good Morning Angels: The “Ukraine 5” and their new pride are finally safely at their forever home

Good Morning Angels: The “Ukraine 5” and their new pride are finally safely at their forever home

It was Ubuntu in action this past weekend to move the 12 lions and two tigers of the Ubuntu Wildlife Sanctuary from the North West to their new sanctuary in the Western Cape.

Ubuntu GMA
Source: Jacaranda FM

BACKGROUND: It was Ubuntu in action this past weekend to move the 12 lions and two tigers of the Ubuntu Wildlife Sanctuary from Groot Marico in the North West province, to their new sanctuary premises on the border of Oudtshoorn and Mossel Bay in the Western Cape. The prepping of camps and planning for this epic move started months ago, when the Ubuntu-team got word that the owners of the land they had leased in Groot Marico intended to resume their hunting business.

A wildlife and Ubuntu-supporter, André De Goede, heard of this and acquired the 1,650 hectares of land, bordering two nature reserves - to provide a permanent, safe home for the big cats, all saved from captivity all over the world.  

Good Morning Angels got involved with Ubuntu in November 2019 with the relocation of five lion cubs, rescued from captivity in appalling conditions in the Ukraine. Under the care of Ubuntu founder Jurg Olsen and the Ubuntu-team, the Ukraine 5 regained their strength, spirit, and dignity to become a thriving, happy pride. Ubuntu is also home to another seven lions and two tigers that have all been rescued from captivity and abuse locally and overseas. 

Olsen explained on Good Morning Angels two weeks ago the extent of the logistics and safety measures needed to ensure the Big Cat’s safe transport on their epic 1,500 kilometre journey by road. With the help of many Angels who came forward, including De Goede, Finance Universe, Uniwisp Fibre, the Lions Foundation, Forum Sekuriteit, Old Chapel Veterinary Clinic, MVW, and Vet Script, the costly relocation was finally a reality. 

READ: Good Morning Angels: From the Ukraine to their forever home in Cape Town 

At 8am on Saturday morning (23 May), wildlife veterinary expert, Dr Peter Caldwell, the Ubuntu-team, and volunteers started with the pain-staking process of preparing the cats for their Big Trek. One-by-one, the 12 lions and two tigers were darted, injected with a multitude of vital meds, inspected, loaded in their crates, loaded on vehicles and trailers, and woken up. This took eight hours. Finally, at 16:00, the convoy of 16 vehicles started the 20 hour non-stop journey to Oudtshoorn with their precious cargo. Two of the lions, Zuka and Malena, needed further medical attention for pre-existing conditions and were taken to Dr Caldwell’s Old Chapel Veterinary Clinic for further treatment.  

At 12pm on Sunday (24 May), the convoy safely reached the new Ubuntu gate - too excited to be exhausted as the final task of off-loading the cats started. One-by-one, the crates were lifted off their vehicles by eight men, carried to their camps, before each lion was released into their new pristine environment. By this time, the group of volunteers knew each lion and tiger by name, experienced their unique personalities, and respected their right to be free and wild in nature.

Last to be released were the Ukraine 5: Sahara, Maya, Mia, Macy, and Mufasa - who have since their relocation to Ubuntu some 15 months ago become a close-knit family of four sisters and a brother. Sahara is the matriarch and was first to bravely venture into her new environment. She assisted and encouraged each of her sisters to do the same: calling out softly to them. As each female took her first steps into the camp, the others would greet her with face rubs and kisses. The four lionesses stood next to one another, facing their brother’s crate, calling for him. He darted out, excited to be re-united with his sisters after their journey. Together, the Ukraine 5 explored their new environment: a family, together in their new home.

The Ubuntu family will grow soon, with four more tigers from Argentina on their way. Construction of a new rhino orphanage will start soon. As a non-profit and self-funded wildlife haven, Ubuntu has come this far, but they need all the help they can get with the road ahead. 

More info: 

Watch the video:

REQUEST FOR: Jurg Olsen, founder and director of Ubuntu Wildlife Sanctuary 

ANGEL: The Good Morning Angels Fund NPC

SPONSORING: To celebrate Jacaranda FM’s 35th birthday, the GMA Fund will donate R35,000 to the Ubuntu Wildlife Sanctuary to assist with caring for the Ukraine 5.

Image credit: Jacaranda FM

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