Emperor Christian Victor I

Emperor Christian Victor I

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

What's Up Wednesday (Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation Center)

I have waited with abated breath for this posting but had to take the time to make it worthwhile for two reasons; its about one of the most amazing experiences I ever had and it will hopefully benefit the charity concerned. It is my pleasure to share the wonderful time I had and as a Royal it is truly an honour to also share a charity event as an event of note on our What's Up Wednesday installment. This will be the largest and most detailed post this blog has seen to date.

It is easy to confuse the concept of "charity" with poverty, in this case it is all but that. In contrast it is of a "majestic" nature in a league, perhaps even beyond that of Royalty. Money however is always useful and in this case it goes towards the conservation and maintenance of the great majesty of nature.   

This past weekend, the Duke of Swann took a much publicized trip to Mphumalanga in Africana. His destination was the Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation Center headed by Frith Douglas.

Frith Douglas is in charge of the medical care of all the animals and for general management of the Rehabilitation Center.

The Rehabilitation Center is an independent charity affiliated to the Cradle of Life Animal Sanctuary. The two organizations work together to help wounded and abandoned animals, to care for wildlife and to market wildlife conservation to the benefit of the local environment. They also take in tamed exotic animals that have become a burden to their owners. It boils down to the Cradle of Life providing the venue and the Second Chance providing the skill and man power to care for the animals.

The Duke of Swann took the long trip to the Sanctuary by car as helipad facilities were not available. After 4 hours into the Africana wilderness he arrived just in time for a short trip around the perimeter of the Park. He then continued to have supper with his host and foreman of the Park, Hardus Hartzenberg. They had a great time around the fire with Hardus's fiance Odetted Espach, Frith and her daughters, Magdali Theron and a volunteer Ruan Els. Lamb ribs and beef sausage called "boerewors" was put on a barbeque, called a "braai". The food was a feast for a King or in this case a Sovereign Duke. After the food and a quick Spanish dance performance from the Duke, they called an early night as the next day required a very early start and held some truly exciting surprises. The rest of the story will be told in the photos to follow. 

The Duke of Swann arrives in the late afternoon last Friday at the Cradle of Life Park. What was originally thought to be just another visit to promote a charity and just another game-drive turned out to genuinely affect the Duke far beyond what he expected.

An Africana sunset as the Duke and the team conclude their perimeter drive of the property.

Hardus Hartzenberg prepares the "braai" for the evenings supper. The Duke of Swann has had to sample traditional food from many places but was quoted to say that nothing beats an Africanian "braai". In the background we heard the lions roaring proclaiming their territory as our evening drew to a close.

A very early Saturday morning sunrise as a day of great excitement lay ahead. It might be useful to know that the Duke is wearing an outfit that looks the same as the day before because his wardrobe was sponsored by a well known camping clothes firm. This was their contribution towards benefitting the charity. They also donated similar clothes to the staff of the Rehabilitation Center.

A short drive from the staff accommodation to the offices for some brief administration and relevant information on the operations of the Rehabilitation Center which was the main reason for the visit.

In the office of the exotic animal caretaker and manager of the Sanctuary, Magdali Theron. She and Hardus are preparing some information and statistics for the Duke's consideration.

Prospective maps and plans for the sanctuary are shown to his Royal Highness. It is interesting to note here that Hardus is managing parts of the Park as a farm with cattle and Walnuts being farmed. This supplies much needed revenue and meat for the animals.

A dangerous snake was saved from termination and is cared for at the sanctuary.

After the initial formalities the fun side of the tour begins with the walking of the tiger cubs. The 3months old Siberian Tiger twins named Aurora and Amerok are walked daily for about one hours worth of exercise to their large enclosure where they spend the rest of their day. Then they are walked back at night to this cage where they sleep. Once they reach 6months they will become to old for this. Here Hardus and Ruan get ready for the action.

The feisty little snots will win you over in an heartbeat. Be careful however, they are extremely dangerous.

Exciting! As small as they are, they are raw power on a chain and strict rules apply for cat and human in order for them to get their much needed exercise.

His Royal Highness did not attempt the dangerous interaction at this stage but reserved the Sunday for some private time at the Sanctuary.

The main animal sanctuary compound is a very large facility containing huge enclosures for many indiginous and exotic animals.

Upon entering, our first stop while walking the cubs was the Hyenas named Whoopi and Queeny.

Next up, the four white lion cubs and their mother. This cub is named Ice.

The cubs are left with a treat before the cleaning of all the cages commences. All cages are cleaned of feces and the former day's leftover bones. Water is also topped up. This happens daily just before the lunchtime feeding. The money required to feed the animals is equal to about 5 to 6 households. The sanctuary employs staff but are reliant on volunteers and donations to augment a very scant budget.

We complete the "tour" of the massive facility as the Duke joins in the cage cleaning. Here he pats the adult Siberian Tiger named Belle.

An Indian Jaguar named Cleo. The Sanctuary contains among others an Africanian and South Americanian Leopard. There are also 2 adult Siberian Tigers, the 2 cubs, 3 Bengal Tiger cubs, 8 Lions, Tundra Wolves, Jackals, Caracal and even Pumas. For more info the websites can be visited, they will be added at the end of this post. Please check them out.

Their Majesties, The King and Queen of the beasts. The African Lions, Sebastian and Sheeba.

After the cleaning, the pick-up arrived with lunch.

The feeding is the highlight of the animals' day.

The male White Lion named Big Boy enjoys his food.

Lions aren't great tree climbers but the Pumas and Leopards are. To make life interesting during their feeding, their food is hidden in the large trees in their enclosure. This stimulates much needed exercise of their bodies and minds.

Chataan, the male Puma searches for his food. Where do you suppose the photographer stood for this shot?

There are also many birds cared for at the sanctuary. These indigenous Nonetjies Owls were injured originally but have recovered.

After the cats, the birds are fed. The Owls are fed by hand. The staff, each gloved, hold the meat out and each Owl gets a turn to fly free between them guided by whistle signals in order to feed.

Here the scale of one cat enclosure can be appreciated. The day was a roaring success, excuse the pun. The Duke of Swann made the trip at his own expense to raise awareness of this particular charity organization.

If you are interested in visiting the Sanctuary, more information, volunteering or just to donate towards this cause please visit the official websites.

For the Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation Center http://www.wildlifesos.co.za/
For the Cradle of Life Animal Sanctuary http://www.cradleoflife.com/Cradle_of_Life/biopark_Wild_1.html
These two work together in providing hope and a home for these amazing creatures.

His Royal Highness kept the Sunday open for his own private interaction with the animals and then returned to the "glamour" of his normal life late on Sunday afternoon. One wonders which life is truly the ,more amazing one.


  1. Amazing post! You and Daniel did a phenomenal job. Your pictures were so realistic. What a great cause, too! This is my favorite Daniel post to date.

    1. Thank you Vanessa. I really enjoyed the trip and taking the photos. I hope this post gives the Sanctuary some much needed publicity. Its always good to give something back and this charity does some good work.

  2. Wonderful post beautiful animals and a very good cause!

  3. Hello from Spain: I like the Duke of Swann enjoyed the meal and a performance of Spanish dance. I see that was an exciting trip. The pictures with the sunset are gorgeous. They do a great job in that center for animals. A great job. Keep in touch.

  4. I love this post!! And so great knowing about an important cause

  5. Thank you everybody for your kind words. I hope you also took a look at the links on this post. Going to see the animals was a real blessing that deeply affected me.

  6. What a great foundation to support! The picturs are really nice and to see the animals in them is like being there.