It is freedom in Africa for lionesses Maggie and Sonja


(Posted 24th January 2015)

While not exactly able to enjoy the services of, according to the World Travel Awards, Africa’s best business class, strapped into the flatbed seats and pampered by the cabin crew on the inaugural B787 Dreamliner flight from London to Nairobi and after a short stop on to Johannesburg, where the two cats nevertheless valued guests of the Pride of Africa.

The Born Free Foundation brought the lions to London from a Belgian animal and wildlife rescue centre before handing them to the care of Kenya Airways which flew the two eight year lionesses first to Nairobi. There they were met on the tarmac by a team of veterinarians and ‘welcomed’ by the airline’s CEO Mbuvi Ngunze, before they were then loaded on another Dreamliner for their flight to Johannesburg.

(Seen here in the picture are Kenya Airways’ CEO Mbuvi Ngunze with the representative of the Born Free Foundation’s Tony Wiles, Dr. Joubert, the Shamwari Wildlife Director, Kenya Airways’ staff and KQ’s Director of Marketing Chris Diaz on the extreme right. The lioness meanwhile seems to complain about being relegated into the cargo hold during the flight and saying: ‘This is NOT the flatbed I expected to travel in …’)

From Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo International Airport were the two lionesses, named Maggie and Sonja, then transported by a special vehicle to the Shamwari Game Reserve, where they can now for the first time enjoy the African wilderness and join a lion pride in the relative safety of the protected reserve.

Rosemary Adogo, Area Manager for Southern Africa and India Ocean Island said on the occasion of receiving the lionesses in Johannesburg: ‘We were thrilled to offer our services to carry this amazing, unique cargo. With the expertise of our support teams and our African network it is great we made this logistically happen for Maggie and Sonja’.

Shamwari Wildlife Director and vet, Dr. Johan Joubert together with the Born Free’s Big Cat Expert Tony Wiles, were present at every step of the journey from Belgium to the UK, and then via Nairobi to Johannesburg.

Dr. Joubert said on arrival at their final destination: ‘I am very satisfied with the rescue and translocation of the lionesses Maggie and Sonja from the Natuurhulpcentrum in Belgium to Shamwari Game Reserve. Although it was a long journey for them, they travelled well. It was snowing when they left, two days ago, and now they are adapting to a hot African summer’s day. They experienced natural grass and trees today for the first time in their life’.

(Free at last at the Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa – Born Free Reloaded)

Besides Kenya Airways and their conservation partner Born Free Foundation did Landrover contribute to accomplish the relocation of the two lionesses.

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