Sophie’s Diary – July 21, 2017

We were up and ready to help do the fence check with the British volunteers when we met Andi who was headed up to check on Natacha. I went up with her and when we got to Natacha’s enclosure we saw that the gate between the medical camp that Natacha is in and an enclosure with Shannon, Sienna and Reign was broken. Shannon is a male lion and has wanted to mate with Natacha as last night before we left, we saw the two showing signs of attraction through the fence. Natacha was in heat before being spayed and will only be in heat for another two weeks. Since the vet had removed a cyst from her uterus, this apparently raises hormones higher than normal.

The gate was fine last night when we left, so Shannon must have broken the gate from trying to get to Natacha. Andi, Johan and two of Andi’s workers went into Natacha’s enclosure on the back of a baakkie (truck) to repair the gate. They put the sliding gate’s wheels back on the track. It took four people to fit it back as it was very heavy. They tied the gate with wires to hold it tight as they don’t use that gate very often. They also took the opportunity to change the lock as the ones they use require a key to open. We were happy to sponsor them with 20 new locks that only require a combination. This will allow easier and quicker access in and out of the lion enclosures throughout the sanctuary. While they worked on fixing the gate, myself and Martin Erasmus, the Managing Director for Partex Haley in South Africa were outside of the enclosure distracting Natacha, as we were asked to watch the gate. We kept her attention by swinging my back pack in front of her like a piece of meat.

When I asked Johan if he was scared or nervous to be in the enclosure with a live lion he said no. However, when I asked Bert, a volunteer who also helped he said he had a lot of adrenaline! Natacha’s tail was also injured, either from getting caught in between the gate or clawed/bit by Shannon. She has a risk to develop ghangaria disease which is a result of poor circulation and can cause death. Andi was concerned so she sent a picture to the vet Dr. Caldwell who said that she would be alright as the antibiotics from the surgery last for three days and she is also getting antibiotics every day. They do not want to sedate her again and stitch the tail, as it is too close to sedate her after having surgery recently. Worst case scenario would be to chop off the tail, but Andi said that Natacha should be fine as lions have a good healing process.

Along with the gate being damaged, electric wires for the electric fence were also damaged making the voltage of the electric fence too low. Johan helped to repair that, and now the electric fence is running better than ever, as it has the highest voltage they’ve ever had! Shannon tried to rub against the fence and got a big shock which made him back off immediately, roar and run away. This was good, as it will prevent him from getting too close to the fence in the future. In fixing the electric wires, Johan was also able to fix an even bigger problem they have been having. The solar panel they use to run the electricity for the lion fences has not been working well. Johan figured out that it is because there has been shade on the solar panel. A small amount of shade on the solar panel can cause a blockage of production in energy, as it blocks the connection of the solar cells. This means that if one solar cell is blocked with a small bit of shade, then the rest are blocked as well. Essentially it is an all or nothing system with the solar panel. The solution will be to move the solar panel to a new location where there is no shade!

After we finished with the enclosure I showed Martin around the sanctuary more, and showed him some of the lions. Then we headed to Harrismith to purchase material needed for Andi’s private bathroom that is being built on the deck that Morgan Young who is part of the Lööf Foundation, helped to build during her volunteer trip last November. While in Harrismith we went to the hardware store to buy different drainage pipes to finish Andi’s sink, bathtub and toilet that Johan is helping to install on her private deck. Then we bought 200 metres of plastic pipe for water. Half of the pipe will be used to connect water to Mela’s enclosure, and the other half will be used for Andi’s bathroom, and for Carl’s water hole that we helped to make during our last trip in December.

We bought the rest of the kitty food at the vet which was three big bags, as Mulan, Odin and Carl eat this with minced meat until they are 18 months old. Kitty food is good for the younger lions as it provides them with essential vitamins they cannot get from other foods. We made sure to buy as much as we could, as all three combined eat one kilogram per day. We also got a couple toys for Carl to play with! We returned at Love Lions Alive Sanctuary and gave Carl his toy and then chatted with Andi. Now we are ending the day by eating dinner at Mug & Bean!

Sophie Lööf

Lööf Foundation Chairman and Founder






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