Lizaene Cornwall-Nyquist

Panthera Africa

What does your company do?

Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary, an internationally recognized non-profit true and ethical sanctuary, is situated on a 40-hectare farm in Stanford, Overberg region in the Western Cape, South Africa. We are a sanctuary for neglected, exploited, and abused big and small cats, and are home to 25 animals: 15 lions, 2 tigers, 2 leopards, 3 caracals, and 3 servals. These animals are housed in many spacious enclosures designed according to the animals’ needs. We have to date rescued over 30 big cats and have additionally successfully placed more rescues in other sanctuaries. We have also been involved in the rehabilitation of Bat-Eared foxes, African wildcats, and caracals. We started the sanctuary firstly to rescue big cats and give them a better and more dignified life and forever home. Additionally, we also educate the public on sustainable tourism practices. The big cat industry is highly exploitative and dishonest. Lions and other big cats are exploited at every stage of their life cycle. As cubs, they are taken away from their mothers to be used in the cub petting industry, often being interacted with tourists up to 100 times a day. When they get too old to be petted, they are either sent to breeding farms to breed more cubs or used for another tourist activity, walking with lions. At the breeding farms, lionesses are bred, up to three times a year, causing damage to their reproductive systems. These breeding farms, having profit as their main aim, keep the lions in poor conditions, without access to sufficient shade, clean water, or food. Some lions are shot and their bones, hide, and other parts are then sold for use in Traditional Chinese medicines, wines, and soups. Other lions end up in a canned hunt where they are drugged or lured with food preventing them from escaping and are then shot for sport by so-called hunters. Our educational visits emphasize the importance of respect for all wildlife, both for the animals’ sake, and the humans. Panthera Africa has over the last nine years created a recognised and solid platform where thousands of visitors, volunteers, and tourism stakeholders, both nationally and internationally, have been educated, moved, and awakened to our vision; a world where animals, nature and humans are equally respected, acknowledged and loved. Through hosting many different visits to the sanctuary, to creating a home-away-from-home for volunteers in search of finding purpose and making a difference, to uniting tourism stakeholders and directing them all towards a responsible, conscious, and sustainable industry. We take pride in speaking on the animals’ behalf and through this bridge humans’ hearts and minds, enabling them to make conscious choices that benefit all life.

What is your biggest success?

Establishing and setting up an ethical sanctuary and truly stating and keeping to our strong ethics regarding animal welfare. When we started, we were told by the industry we would never be successful without providing interaction with big cats and raising of cubs for interaction. We proved them wrong. Staying true to our ethics of no breeding, no trading and no petting, and maintaining the highest level of animal welfare, within a few years we had become one of the best 7 ethical sanctuaries in SA, which is a huge achievement.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

There are many hurdles, but keeping the financial side of sanctuary flowing while never compromising on any veterinarian procedures or animal welfare aspects has been one of the biggest hurdles and still continues to be on a monthly basis.