Panthera Africa is an internationally recognized, award-winning, non-profit big cat sanctuary situated in the Western Cape, South Africa. We are home to 27 rescued lions, tigers, leopards, caracals, servals and more.

One of Panthera Africa’s main purposes is to be an educational platform where we create awareness about the condition’s big cats face in captivity with the aim to bring an end to this commercialised exploitative industry. Equally important is to show how holistic animal welfare and enrichment play a vital role in giving animals the best captive life possible.

The magic of the Panthera Africa story lies in the way heartbreak and disillusionment were transformed into a story of hope, faith and love. The sanctuary was founded by Lizaene and Cathrine S. Cornwall-Nyquist, two naïve volunteers who believed that they were saving lions by raising cubs. One day, when their two beloved lions, Obi and Oliver were sent away, they started to get suspicious. The owner of the project told them that the lions were going back to their owners. Lizaene and Cathrine never stopped loving these two lions and went to visit them at the breeding facility and that day changed their lives. What they saw, stopped them in their tracks. Deformed lionesses having difficulty walking because of deformities; a tiny cub in a 1sq.m. cage totally panicked; and their beloved Obi and Oliver were found in a tiny enclosure with their two sisters, emaciated and without any shade, proper food or drinking water. Right then and there Lizaene and Cathrine realised something needed to be done and they made a promise to rescue Obi and Oliver one day.

With this burning passion, they decided to start a big cat sanctuary, a place where big cats were respected and given the best possible captive life without any exploitation such as breeding, trading or interaction. They were met with a lot of criticism; people said that you cannot make a sanctuary financially viable if you don’t trade or offer interaction to tourists and volunteers.

Lizaene and Cathrine were determined to prove them wrong and came up with ethical guidelines and a business framework or blueprint that would protect and take care of the big cats and be able to support the cats financially. They also realised with a deep sense of responsibility, that they must let people know about what they have witnessed so that volunteers are no longer duped into petting cubs and thinking they are doing work for conservation. And so, they decided to offer educational visits to the public, so that the awareness can grow.

Cathrine and Lizaene successfully relocated Obi and Oliver, and the other big cats, to Panthera Africa and kept their promise. They never lost hope and always believed that they would rescue their lion friends. A story of despair became a story of love and hope and opened their hearts to the beauty of helping big cats in need.

Video overview

Activities offered

  • Eco tourism

Where we operate

  • South Africa

Where we’re based

  • South Africa

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