2022 IN REVIEW - FREE THE WILD
2022 presented Free The Wild with a range of challenges, not least of which were the difficulties we faced while working to free lions, tigers and bears from various zoos and private collections in Ukraine.
Thanks to the support of our fellow animal lovers, the steely-eyed determination of our partners across the world and our dedicated team, Free The Wild was able to administer high-level care to suffering elephants, bears and lions across Europe and the Americas, safely transfer 10 big cats over 7000km from Ukraine to South Africa, gain government support for the abolishment of animal testing in Israel and garner a vote of confidence from Thai officials in our mission to free Bua Noi and the hundreds of other animals held in Pata Zoo.
We hope to achieve even more going into 2023 and, with a number of exciting, large-scale developments already in motion, we anticipate this year to be one of the charity's best to date.
Please join us in continuing our efforts to end the suffering of wild animals in captivity, and to those of you who've helped us so far, we and the animals we've saved can't thank you enough.
Wishing you all a fantastic start to the year, with all our gratitude and more.
Co-founder & Trustee
Free the Wild
MIR & SIMBA, SAFE & SOUND
After several months of uncertainty surrounding the fates of the male lions, Mir and Simba, from Ukraine, we are delighted to announce their safe arrival in South Africa.
The two were slightly dazed following the 17-hour journey, but have both made a speedy recovery and are now enjoying the open African air and acres of space, along with the company of Simbonga's growing pride and dedicated staff.
There are still a concerning number of animals in distress throughout Ukraine as a result of the conflicts there, but the zoos, circuses and private owners continue to believe that they and their animals will be able to bounce back once the war is over. We continue to investigate potential solutions to get them out, and hope in the meantime that the shelling, gunfire and elevated sense of dread and anxiety doesn't take a deadly toll on those that remain.
WORLD LION DAY
AUGUST 10 IS WORLD LION DAY!
Free The Wild are working on a number of international projects to help protect wild lion populations and improve the lives of those kept in captivity.
Right now, there are 12 lions in Lahore Safari Park, Pakistan, which are scheduled for auction to private collectors this week. We're working with ministers in Islamabad and WWF Pakistan to prevent this from going ahead!
As a result of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, many of the zoos in Ukraine have taken damage, lost their staff or fallen into disrepair, meaning their animals can no longer be supported. We have already worked to save 5 lions, a tiger and a bear from the war zone, but now our partners are on the ground trying to save two more, Mir and Simba. Please donate to our cause so that we can get them out safely, and have them moved to an accredited sanctuary in South Africa.
MASHA SAFELY RELOCATED
A MISSION FROM UKRAINE TO ROMANIA
With your support and the courage of a few amazing people on the ground in Ukraine, Masha has been successfully collected from her temporary housing facility and safely transported to her new sanctuary home in Romania!
Liberty Bear Sanctuary is a 70 hectare stretch of land in the Romanian wilderness, home to over 100 brown bears rescued from across Europe and Asia - a wonderful place for Masha, the 22-year-old ex-circus bear to call home.
Thank you all for your amazing efforts 🧡
THREE MAGICAL WORDS - FREE THE WILD
We did it again. Free the wild’s latest rescue mission is complete. Five happy lions and one magnificent tiger received a new lease on life after being transferred from their appalling captivity in Ukraine to their new sanctuary home in South Africa. The big cats touched down in Johannesburg on Friday, 14th January 2022, courtesy of DHL and were then transferred by road to Simbonga Sanctuary in Gqeberha (previously known as Port Elizabeth). Our mission started some 6 months ago when we learnt of 7 lions and a tiger’s struggle for life and survival from Lionel De Lange. The cats lived depressing lives in horrific, antiquated concrete cages in Ukraine. They endured freezing conditions in winter, living on concrete floors and looking at the outside world through thick steel bars. None of the cats had ever felt soft soil under their paws, they never knew the smell of grass, neither did they sense the heat of the sun nor experienced the shade of a tree.
Their cramped, caged and neglected conditions in the Ukraine zoo, regrettably led to one of the male lions being killed in a fight before we could complete the rescue and very sadly, another one of the older, frail males suffered a heart-attack and died during sedation. He could not be resuscitated. COVID played a significant role in the loss of these magnificent lions as delayed travel arrangements hampered their earlier release. This was a heartbreaking setback for all of us at Free the Wild and the Warriors of Wildlife teams who were working on this project. But, despite this tragic result, the five remaining lions and their female tiger companion made it, and for the first time in their lives they stepped out of their caged existence into the fresh African air, where they started familiarising themselves immediately with their new sanctuary home on Saturday morning.
The 14-hour transfer by road from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth was hopefully their last ordeal and we hope and pray that the experience in total was not too traumatic for them. News from Simbonga reports that they are settling in and fast acclimatising to their new surroundings and the weather.
Finally, these beautiful big cats have a chance to live out the rest of their lives in peace and care in the warmth of Africa.
We cannot thank everyone involved in this relocation enough. From Lionel and Anya who brought their plight to our attention, their team at Simbonga Sanctuary, the vets in Ukraine, DHL for sponsoring this precious cargo and our amazing Co-founder Cher for all her help and the financial support and care from all our wonderful donors and supporters. On behalf of all of us at Free the Wild, here’s to the lions and the tiger’s future in their happy new home.
Thanks to all of you for helping us make this happen and to Si Cunneen for the wonderful images!
Co-founder & Trustee
Free the Wild
BIG CAT RESCUE
Free The Wild has successfully completed our work in Ukraine, to rescue and relocate the lions and tigress brought to our attention by Lionel De Lange and have them safely transferred to sanctuary in South Africa.
Their epic journey from Ukraine, to Turkey and then Johannesburg by air followed by a 14-hour overland haul to Simbonga Sanctuary in Port Elizabeth is complete and they are now home free.
Thank you for your amazing support - we couldn't have done it without you!
Please click on the link below to learn more about the project and to read Co-Founder, Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne's mission statement.
URBAN WILDLIFE & NATURE
Our competition winners have been selected!
A huge congratulations to the top three contenders and our Under 15s winner! Follow the link below to see all 15 Finalist photos and the overall winners.
Prizes are currently being processed, so be sure to check your emails to see if we've reached out to you for additional information.
LET'S MAKE 2021 A YEAR TO REMEMBER
As an amateur wildlife photographer, a conservationist at heart, and through all my travels visiting wildlife reserves and conservancies around the world, I am all too familiar with how animals live and survive in the wild.
I am aware of how they mix with their own kind, stimulated but their natural surroundings and how they behave like wild animals should.
Seeing what happens in some of the world’s worst zoos and circuses, where wild animals are kept in confined spaces, frequently in solitary confinement, all too often in the wrong or no natural habitat at all, is simply heart-breaking.
For those of us who care about these rights and wrongs, we find the treatment of these animals and their living conditions unbearable to look at. But, then it’s so much easier to simply look away.
May I please request that we don’t turn our backs on these poor souls in 2021? Please start this new year by opening your eyes to their plight and need for help.
With the very complex year of 2020 behind us all, I can honestly say that we can be happy to have been able to focus on the positives too. In the face of COVID, Free the Wild still managed to achieve the freedom of Kaavan and the other animals in Islamabad. Relocating this elephant from his solitary confinement in Pakistan to his new and peaceful home in Cambodia was a giant leap for a small charity like Free the Wild. No matter how difficult it was for us at times, to know that were able to achieve this task after five years of very difficult work, it has now spurred us on to continue on our future missions.
For Free the Wild, 2021 is not only the beginning of new year, but also the start of our critical work to help some of the other persecuted, imprisoned, isolated, abused and neglected captive wild animals around the world.
Whilst many of us may sometimes feel like just burying our heads in the sand and walking away, we must look at this new year as a gift of time and pull together our strengths as human beings to face each new challenge.
Please help us achieve the rescue and release into sanctuaries of the ± 300 primates, reptiles and other animals in Pata Zoo. Naturally our work does not end with this particular zoo in Thailand. There are animals suffering in many terrible zoos who need our help immediately. We have a massive task this year and as a very small charity, we simply cannot do it alone.
On behalf of Kaavan, and all the other animals that were released from the zoo in Islamabad, may I take this moment to thank all our amazing supporters again for the help you’ve given us in 2020 and ask you to continue with your assistance. It certainly was a year that we will never forget but let’s make 2021 the year to remember.
Cher, Mark and I, along with our trustees wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Co-founder & Trustee
Free the Wild
HELP US DO MORE
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We did it!
We did it!
KAAVAN IS IN CAMBODIA!
Kaavan is Free! Long live Kaavan!
After five years of an incredibly bumpy journey, having had to negotiate with zoo employees and officials, municipalities, local and international wildlife associations and authorities and even high level governments – Free the Wild won and we managed to free Kaavan!
We have freed this amazing 35 year old elephant from chains, abuse and neglect from the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan and now have him safe, sound, happy and healthy on the ground, with three new lovely female elephant friends, at the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary in Siem Reap.
In the process not only did we have an immensely long struggle but Kaavan also set a new world record for being the biggest, heaviest Asian elephant to travel the longest distance by air.
We are so grateful for the support and assistance from so many people and organisations around the world who made this happen. Thank you to our trustees and friend without whom this would never have been possible.
Everyone is congratulating us for enable Kaavan’s freedom and we could not be more proud of what we have achieved. But we must not forget that it is also the government and people of Pakistan and the government of Cambodia who needs a massive thanks from us, but most of all the donors and supporters of Free The Wild, without whom we can not continue our ongoing work. To tackle our next missions with Bua Noi the gorilla, the orangutan and her baby, the bonobo and all the primates in Pata Zoo in Bangkok, Billy the elephant in the LA zoo and any other projects, we desperately need your continued support.
So, on behalf of Cher, Gina, myself, our trustees Anika, Jen and Sagan, our whole Free the Wild team in London, LA, Canada and Pakistan as well as all the animals we work for – we thank you, sincerely!
Together, we did it - Kaavan is free.
Co-Founder & Trustee