Here are some of Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary's frequently asked questions
Jukani was established at Mossel Bay - how long was it in operation there?
Jukani was started in 2005 by Jurg and Karen Olsen in George, and moved to one of the previous owners properties in Mossel Bay in 2007. SAASA completed our relocation and proudly opened the doors to the sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay on the 1st of August 2013.
When exactly did the relocation of the animals take place and when did Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary open for business.
The actual translocation of the animals took place at the end of July 2013, and SAASA re-opened Jukani in Plett the 1st of August 2013.
What was the reason for the relocation to the Plett area?
The move was a combination of several reasons, each compelling enough to have warranted the move.
1. Since the Jukani sanctuary has been acquired by our subsidiary Welisa Holdings, and all our operational activities are in Plettenebrg Bay and The Crags in particular, it makes a lot of sense to have the 3 sanctuaries in close proximity.
2. The existing or old Jukani site is situated on a property that is close to Mosgas (Petro SA) and the long term effect of the fumes from Mosgas could be detrimental to the health of the animals.
3. The Mossel Bay property is not ideal, in that there are no trees, it was very small, there was little shade, and it was wind swept. The access from the N2 has also always been an issue.
4. The lease was expiring, and the landowners, who were also co-owners of Jukani wanted the land for a major farming project.
Please describe the new Jukani location (size, facilities, geography or vegetation, etc.), how it was sourced and the benefits and/or comparisons to its prior location.
We have entered into a long term lease with the landowner of the property on which the new Jukani is situated. We have set up the large cat enclosures on approximately 17 ha and have built a reception with ablutions next to the Plett Puzzle Park which operates on another portion of the farm. The vegetation on the new farm, in contrast to the barren Mossel Bay property is one of rolling parklands with trees and even forest in many areas. The new site is ideal for the sanctuary, plenty of large trees, and shade, ample water, very large enclosures with places where the animals can retreat to if they want to be out of sight.
Exactly how far will Jukani be situated from Birds of Eden and Monkeyland?
The new property is 5km away from Monkeyland as the crow flies, and 9kms by road.
Shouldn't they be free and not held in enclosures?
In an ideal world we would have all our cats free roaming in large territories but sadly the reality is that there just is not adequate space for these captive born apex predators anymore. Natural apex cat habitats are being destroyed by humans at an alarming rate in the name of development and to make space for human settlements. Africa's lions have virtually no more space left due to human invasion into their territories.
Adding to this the huge amount of poaching that is taking place internationally and the black market trade in predator species body parts and you have a no win situation for any big cat anywhere in the world.
Researchers have estimated that lions will be extinct in the wild in Africa in the next twenty years, all tiger sub species will be extinct within 15 years, several leopard species have only a few hundred left in the wild and jaguar numbers have dwindled from approximately 10,000 to less than 5,000 in the wild in a very short space of time. In the US Pumas are seen as problem animals and killed on sight and cheetahs are considered vermin by Namibian farmers.
All our cats have been born in captivity and as a result lack the skills to survive in the wild. Yes, they are very dangerous and still have some of their natural instincts (they are apex predators) but it will take several generations of breeding and intensive rehabilitation processes on vast pieces of land, stocked with prey species, to attempt to re-wild some of the animals and with zero guarantee of success.
Their enclosures are spacious and exceed standards set by authorities by far. They are designed to allow them a 360 degree view and to act out their natural behaviour patterns.
Why do you feed them daily when in the wild they don't eat every day?
In the wild they can hunt when they are hungry (most species are only about 30% to 40% successful when hunting). They consume huge amounts of food during a feeding because they don't know where or when the next meal will be coming from and to ensure a full tummy before scavengers such as hyenas chase them off their prey. Obviously they cannot hunt when they are in enclosures, and quite frankly they don't know how to hunt, and we feed each animal app 7% of its body weight per week. This we divide into 7 days with small, medium and big feedings. We also feed different kinds of meat and add nutrients and supplements to their food to ensure healthy and happy cats.
Why are some of the lionesses so fat?
The female lions were on contraceptives to prevent any unplanned breeding. The contraceptives have the same effect on the “girls” as would be the case with your domestic dog or cat that's been neutered or spayed.
We do not support the breeding of large predators only to sell the cubs or use them for animal touching / interaction with guests. We have castrated and neutered all the male apex cats who live at Jukani since there relocation to Plettenberg Bay. We dont breed at Jukani, we simply provide a forever home.
How old do the animals get?
In captivity they live a lot longer than in nature where they are in a constant battle for survival. A male lion seldom gets older than eight to nine years in nature whilst in captivity they can live up to twenty years of age. The same goes for tigers, leopards, jaguars etc.
What happens to animals when they get too old?
Jukani is a sanctuary for all the animals in our care and they will receive life time care and treatment here. With this commitment also comes the huge responsibility of proper animal keeping and planning for the future of each animal at Jukani.
What is wrong with the white male tiger's eyes?
Angelo is suffering from Progressive Retinal Atrophy and is going blind. It is an irreversible and incurable disease that causes complete blindness in animals. PRA is the result of inbreeding and white tigers and white lions are known to be severely inbred by breeders to ensure white offspring.
Did new infrastructure have to be built and could you briefly describe this.
The new property is already home to an existing tourist attraction Plettenberg Bay Puzzle Park, which is an interesting concept that is suitable for people of all ages, and offers a walk through maze, which is far more difficult than it first appears. This attraction has facilities, but we have put in our own facilities and infrastructure. For example, working with The South African Roads Authority (SANRAL) we will upgrade the section of the N2 in front of the property to 4 lanes, that is 2 turning lanes and 2 lanes for passing traffic one in each direction. This is being done with SANRAL but we will be carrying the cost of the upgrade. We have also extended the parking area, and the new reception and ablution will be used for both the Puzzle Park and Jukani.
It must have been a mammoth task to relocate the animals to their new location?
Relocating animals is always a difficult and costly exercise, but it is exponentially more so when they are large cats. Special transport cages had to be manufactured for the job, and all the animals could not be moved on the same day - the relocation was completed over a period of about 2 weeks.
The total cost of the relocation of the animals including veterinarians was about R450,000. We used two veterinary practices whom worked together, one located in Mossel Bay and the other in Plettenberg Bay.
There was a veterinarian travelling with the animals as well.
The animals moved from the Mossel Bay site to Plettenebrg Bay include, White Tigers, Bengal Tigers, Siberian Tigers, White Lion, Tawny Lion, Hyena, Wild Dog, Cheetah, Jaguar, Leopard, Cougar, Jackal, Caracal, Puma and various snake species.
Please provide me with general comment about what the new facility will offer, how pleased or excited you are about this venture and what it will deliver to the public and the well-being of these animals.
Looking at the project as a whole, the main and most obvious benefit is the positive impact to the animals, by way of the large enclosures with tons of trees, shade and enrichment. Jukani like Monkeyland and Birds of Eden is a “happy ending to sad storys” foreverhome. Many of the animalswho live at Jukani come from situations where they would end up on the wrong end of a barrel at a canned hunt, or worse still subjected to petting for the rest of their lives. The public will immediately pick up the “vibe” that Jukani is a happy place where the animals are happy and safe.
What does the word/name Jukani mean?
It was never intended to have a meaning, and was a word made from parts of the names of the founders Jurg and Karen Olsen and a letter out of each of their daughters names. But how strange is this, along the line of the film Avitar, Cassie Thomas’s SCi-Fi “Deviant Art” Jukani is a Planet in the Schori-Krexian Alliance, the planet is covered in dense jungle, much of which is man eating plants. The inhabitants however as in Avitar, are man-like in form, but with cat like feet and eyes, they have tails and retractable claws on their hands.
In the vicinity of The Crags there are already quite a number of animal tourist attractions. How did the other organisations react to the news that Jukani is relocating and will in fact be a close neighbour (ie objections/invitations/no objections)?
In the main all the existing animal related activities in The Crags supported the relocation of Jukani, with the exception of one of the cat petting establishments, who saw Jukani as competition, and objected, and later when approval was granted they also appealed approval.
How did the permission process work and what requirements did you have to meet in order to move Jukani to The Crags? Were there perhaps any objections/obstacles there?
Permission for the relocation triggered several requirements under the new NEMA legislation, which basically meant that we had to go through a Basic Assessment which entails a full Environmental Impact Assessment. Jukani is not the type of project that would have a negative impact on the environment, and it’s demand on natural recourses are very low, so the process was relatively straight forward. There were objections, I think there always are, but fortunately none that were based on real impact, but more on anti-competition which is not a defendable objection, as we all know that competition is good.
What is the cost involved (the move and erecting the facility at The Crags)?
The final cost is in the region of R9 million.
Now that Jukani is moving to The Crags and effectively form part of SAASA, will they be acquiring more cats/animals and if so, how will this be funded?
Jukani is not on an acquisition drive, and there are no plans to get any more animals. None of the apex cats in our care are able to breed. There is absolutely no point in breeding as you only create more orphans - Jukani does not trade in wildlife. Nearly all establishments who breed wild cats do so for financial gain, and many do so to supply the canned hunting and bone trade. That is the opposite of what Jukani is - Jukani is an orphanage and a sanctuary for the animals that are already there. This however does not mean that if Nature Conservation confiscate animals and approach the sanctuary to care for them, that we won’t do so. We would look at the merits of every case, and if it is the right thing to do, and it will not jeopardise the animals we are already looking after, then we will accept them.
What makes facilities which form part of SAASA different from other animal tourist attractions?
To be part of the South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance (SAASA) you have to have and operate within a set of very strict rules, and before you can form part of the alliance you have to demonstrate that you have not and will never trade in wildlife, you also have to have a policy of absolutely no public interaction (petting) with the animals in your care, and you have to be Fair Trade Accredited. Jukani is the only Fair Trade Accredited apex cat sanctuary in South Africa.
What can people expect at the “new” Jukani in Plettenberg Bay?
They can expect to visit one of the great wildlife sanctuaries of the World, the sort of place you go away from happy that you had the opportunity to go.
What are the biggest misconceptions people might have about a facility such as Jukani at the Crags (lion’s roar that scare elephants etc).
Only the very challenged will believe that an elephant would be scared it heard a lion roar, but I suppose there are those who would believe that, there are no elephants in ear shot of Jukani, so I am not going to dwell on that misconception. The biggest misconception I think is that people believe that because an animal is in captivity it is no longer a dangerous animal, you keep reading stories in the paper about how they found out the hard way.
Members of the general public are often very ignorant when it comes to animals and ethics (ie animal touching, how animals are kept, how they are killed, hunting separation – mothers and babies etc) – what are the biggest obstacles in educating the public and what are the basics people should know?
This is unfortunately very true, I have just read a post on the SAASA website about a place in Mexico where you can have your picture taken with a young lion at a cost of US and that the money is used to save the lion. Fortunately, the person who put the post on the site, saw through the scam, but how many don’t and instead - like sheep - pay the to the unscrupulous vendor. Nothing ever gets done for the poor lion cub, and when the lion gets too big and dangerous to be photographed with patrons, it gets disposed of. Then a another young lion cub is taken away from its mother so it can be imprinted by humans, and takes the older lion’s place. There are no exceptions, be it being photographed with monkeys or monitor lizards in Thailand, or Cheetah in South Africa there is absolutely no conservation value in the petting trade.
Definitely the biggest obstacle in educating the general public in instances like this, is that many (most of them) really believe they are paying the money to pet the wild animal in order to help the animal. They deep down inside really believe they are doing the right thing, it is this deep routed desire to help wild animals that is being exploited by the petting trade.