On Monday, 10 August, it will be World Lion Day, and Shamwari TV and The Born Free Foundation are – because of lockdown – celebrating the anniversary virtually.

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A lion at Shamwari. Photos: Shamwari.

Shamwari’s virtual game drives started when head ranger Andrew Kearney, armed with just a rifle and cellphone, started filming his daily excursions around the reserve and posting them on YouTube. (Watch his game drives here.)

The short videos became so popular that the ranger and hospitality teams began hosting Shamwari TV episodes for tour operators, travel agents and guests around the world. This higher quality, professionally shot series has also quickly gained a large following.

On 10 August, the team will visit one of the Born Free Foundation’s two big cat sanctuaries on the 25,000-hectare reserve. Viewers will learn more about the work the foundation does educating people about the consequences of taking wild animals from their habitat and will experience first-hand how it cares for rescued African big cats.

Viewers will be introduced to some of the cats, which have been kept as household pets or rescued from zoos and circuses around the world and are not able to survive in the wild. At Shamwari they are cared for in five bush enclosures.

Viewers will then join the Shamwari rangers to visit a pride of lions living in the wild on the reserve. The rangers will provide the full safari experience, telling viewers more about the lions, how they live, sleep (a lot), hunt, their habits and social interactions and the dynamics of the pride.