The Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary is situated on a 5,000-hectare private farm, called Bahati Estate, in the Vaalwater region of Limpopo province, South Africa. Bahati Estate is owned by the Heuser family and the sanctuary was opened by Savannah Heuser in 2012 when she was just 16 years old.

In November 2017 Veterans for Wildlife travelled to Emoya in order to donate much-needed equipment to the rangers dedicated to securing the facility and the animals under its care. Veterans for Wildlife donated a number of ballistic vests to the rangers, with the hope that these items will make the day-to-day tasks and working environment a little safer.

This is particularly pertinent given recent events. Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary is currently home to 42 big cats, including 40 lions and 2 tigers. However, a few months ago, during the morning feed two lions were found with their heads and paws cut off and their corpses skinned. This horrifying act of poaching is believed to be a witchcraft-related killing.

Poachers frequently kill lions at South African reserves to make traditional potions and charms, that are supplied to the country’s witchcraft market. Many of the lions are poisoned before their bodies are mutilated, which was also the case at Emoya. Many ingredients for traditional potions can be bought at markets in major cities such as Johannesburg and Durban.

Given the incident and vulnerability of Emoya, Veterans for Wildlife are very pleased and proud to make the donation to the rangers and look forward to assisting in the hardening of the facility’s overall security posture.

This donation was made possible thank to the generous support of Protection Vessels International.