Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary – By Yolanda Wessels

By Yolanda Wessels

Situated near Stanford in the Western Cape lies Panthera Africa, a non-profit company and haven for exploited animals. This 40-hectare environmentally friendly sanctuary is home to animals that have all been rescued from exploitation in one form or another – circuses, zoos, breeding facilities, canned hunting, cub petting facilities, the tiger and lion bone trade, and even private homes where they were kept as pets.

Panthera Africa will secure a prosperous future for these 26 captive-bred big cats such as lions, tigers, leopards, caracals, and servals, and allow them to spend the rest of their lives cared for with respect and love. No breeding is permitted.

Panthera Africa was founded by Lizaene Cornwall-Nyquist and Cathrine Cornwall-Nyquist and is inspired by the passion Lizaene and Cathrine have for the four pantheras: Panthera leo (lion), Panthera pardus (leopard), Panthera onca (jaguar) and Panthera tigris (tiger). Lizaene says caring for big cats is her calling in life as does Cathrine. “We saw the need for a true sanctuary and the rescue of captive suffering animals, as well as spreading awareness and educating the public. I feel truly blessed to have found my purpose in life so that together we can better advocate for the protection of our wildlife.”

Many people are unaware of what is truly happening to these majestic cats, and therefore Panthera Africa takes pride in speaking on their behalf. By implementing future-forward thinking through education and awareness they believe in making a positive change to develop enriched and prosperous lives for the big cats in captivity.

Panthera Africa works together with local as well as international organizations and wildlife activists to accomplish workable solutions to save these cats. They aim to become the first “Green” big cat sanctuary in South Africa, running solely on solar energy.

The public can also make a difference by visiting them as a volunteer or attending one of their interactive visits given by an informed and passionate host, and learning more about these majestic creatures when you become part of the pride.

A conservation milestone was reached in November 2023, when on the cusp of their ninth birthday in April, they successfully rehabilitated and released three African wildcats, five bat-eared foxes, and a caracal kitten to the wild.

Everyone at Panthera Africa takes this responsibility very seriously and contributes as much as possible toward the realization of the vision of a world where animals, humans, and nature are equally respected, acknowledged, and loved. “We believe in unity there is strength and by standing together, human and animal, we believe in the possibility of a prosperous future for the big cats.”