lion on the loose north west

The lion has been on the loose since Saturday – Photo: Supplied / Mike Dexter

A Rescue Mission: Six big cats rescued from Ukrainian zoo

Five lions and one tiger, all born in Ukraine, were rescued from captivity and released at a sanctuary in South Africa.

lion on the loose north west

The lion has been on the loose since Saturday – Photo: Supplied / Mike Dexter

Five lions and one tiger – all born in Ukraine – found a new home in South Africa after being kept in captivity.

Rescuing five lions and one tiger from Ukraine

The rescue mission was completed by DHL Global Forwarding on behalf of the non-profit organisation, Warriors of Wildlife. This organisation is dedicated to the rescue, relocation and future care of abused and neglected wildlife in captivity and has rescued a total of 28 wild cats and other animals from Ukraine to date.

The DHL Global Forwarding group’s rescue team. Image: Supplied/Mike Dexter

A wildlife rescue mission

“To make the journey as pleasant as possible for our special guests, profound expertise and a well-coordinated team are key,” said Amadou Diallo, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding MEA.

“Our ‘Lions and Falcons of DHL’, as I like to call our staff, brought the animals safely back to their wild home base. In the sanctuary of Warriors of Wildlife, they are finally back where they belong – two of them have South African parents. The lions Hercules, Cher, Khaya, Ilana, another male lion that was named Arslan by our Turkish Airfreight team, as well as the tiger Kisa, travelled with us for 72 hours. Not an easy job, but one we accepted wholeheartedly.”

The wild cats were kept in a private zoo in Chernivtsi and a zoo in Nikolaev in the south of Ukraine before they finally found a new home at a sanctuary run by the Lionel de Lange, the director of Simbonga Game Farm & Sanctuary located near Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth).

Throughout the whole journey, the animals were monitored by veterinarian specialists. In Ukraine, the rescue team had the support of a Ukrainian vet until departure. Together with the director of Warriors for Wildlife and another veterinarian they boarded then their flight from Boryspil International Airport to O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

The very best environment for wild cats

In the last leg of their journey, the cats travelled via road before they were finally welcomed to their new home.

“Transporting wild cats is always a great challenge and requires the trust and cooperation of all parties involved. We were able to manage this complex coordination effort with ease and bring the animals safely back to their home. Now, the lions and the tigress are in the very best environment with the proper care they need,” said Lionel.

One of the lions that were rescued from Ukraine. Image: Supplied/MikeDexter