Shamwari Private Game Reserve has established itself as one of the best game reserves in the country. With a longstanding history and connection to the African landscape, our reserve is one of the most sought-after safaris. While Shamwari competes for the title with the likes of lodges in The Kruger Park, it holds its own. With the stunning landscape of the Eastern Cape, it is no wonder that it is one of the top 10 private game reserves in South Africa.

Our Game Reserve is more than just a luxury safari vacation. This year, we are celebrating our 30th year of providing wildlife conservation in the Eastern Cape. African Safari  covered how it all began, “The Shamwari project began in 1992, when a dedicated conservation team started buying up land, taking down fences and reintroducing indigenous animals.” And now in 2022, our luxury lodge can reflect on the extensive improvement of the game reserve. And also the Eastern Cape’s ecosystem, as a whole.

Want to see our wildlife in action? Watch the short documentary below of a day at Shamwari Private Game Reserve.

Born Free Big Cat Animal Sanctuary

Leopard At Shamwari Animal Sanctuary

Shamwari is celebrating another incredible Milestone. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries. Created in partnership with the Born Free Foundation, Shamwari opened its animal sanctuary and rescue centre. The main focuses in the Big Cat section include a leopard and a lion sanctuary. And the animal sanctuaries do more than help animals in need. It educates humans on the importance of wildlife conservation.

While there have been advances in rescuing animals from captivity, there is still a lack of general knowledge about the subject. The animal sanctuaries created by Shamwari hope to change that. The wildlife conservation facilities at our Private Game Reserve aim to raise awareness about the exploitation of wildlife. Humans have been capturing and exploiting wild animals since the dawn of time – and we want to put that to a stop.

female and male lion sanctuary at Shamwari

So what has our animal sanctuary achieved over these years? From our official web page, here’s the latest, “Over the years the Born Free Foundation has been able to rescue several big cats from impoverished situations. Born Free focuses on promoting the conservation of species and the protection of habitat whilst maintaining a humane and compassionate approach to the welfare of animals.”

In the video below you will see some more of the Shamwari property as well as clips from our wildlife conservation.

Our Private Game Reserves aims to reach as many people as possible with our wildlife conservation message. That is why our leopard and lion sanctuaries are completely free to enter. The education of consumers about wildlife, the dangers of the exotic and pet trade and more are prioritised over turning a profit. The big cat sanctuary runs on donations, so while no entrance fee is charged, we encourage monetary donations if feasible.

Exotic Pets & Wildlife Captivity

Caring for one lion at Shamwari can cost over £5000 for the year. That translates to approximately R102,400 per lion in the lion sanctuary. Glen Vena, the animal care manager at Shamwari is part of the rehabilitation process for animals that have been rescued from captivity.

Mr Vena commented on the cost of wildlife conservation and reflected, “It is expensive to care for rescued lions, but it’s worth every cent and time spent, as long as cruelty continues, as long as the illegal exotic pet trade continues and the exploitation of wild animals continues. We need men and women to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless.” This quotation was sourced from a Born Free Article.

Exotic pets are nothing new, people have been capturing wild animals for their selfish entertainment and ego for thousands of years. In fact, when you type “exotic pets” into Google’s search engine the first suggestion is “exotic pets for sale”. Wildlife captivity and the ownership of exotic pets were originally only accessible to the rich and famous. But with the internet, it is possible to find whatever you like (no matter how inhumane).

leopard in cage

The Born Free foundation in the USA published an article that covers the risks of obtaining an exotic animal, which is also almost always illegal. “Exotic animals do not make good companions. They require special care, housing, diet, and maintenance that the average person cannot provide. When in the hands of private individuals, the animals suffer due to poor care.

They also pose safety and health risks to their owners and any person coming into contact with them. Individuals possessing exotic animals often attempt to change the nature of the animal rather than the nature of the care provided. Such tactics include confinement in small, barren enclosures, chaining, beating “into submission,” or even painful mutilations, such as declawing and tooth removal.

If and when the individual realizes he/she can no longer care for an exotic pet, he/she usually turns to zoos and other institutions such as sanctuaries to relieve him/her of the responsibility. However, all the zoos and accredited institutions could not possibly accommodate the number of unwanted exotic animals. Consequently, the majority of these animals are euthanized, abandoned, or doomed to live in deplorable conditions”. You can read the full article on the dangers of keeping exotic pets if you’d like to learn more.

leopard roaring in captivity

Visit Our Leopard & Lion Sanctuary

happy male lion rolling in the bushveld

The Big Cat Sanctuary is an amazing destination for local or international travellers. These incredible wild animals can be observed from a safe distance while they enjoy their natural habitat. You can learn more about wildlife conservation and meet the big cats whose lives have been changed. There are a variety of gorgeous and unique safari lodges to stay in while staying at our private game reserve. When you visit Shamwari, you are not simply going on Safari. You are contributing to a game reserve that is helping protect wildlife and conserving a vanishing way of life. Book your stay today to enjoy an unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful locations in South Africa.