By Jerome Flynn
The survival of white lions a free roaming species is hanging by a thread. There is an abominable, growing, legal industry that threatens all the lions of South Africa, both tawny and white, a practice that is so despicable it makes one’s stomach shudder at how disconnected from his heart man can be.
It is known as “canned hunting.” This practice involves taking cubs from their captive mothers at birth. That means the mothers can go into oestrus and breed again within a few months, rather than every 2 or 3 years as they would in the wild.
The cubs will then be used in the ‘cub-petting ‘industry aimed at unsuspecting tourists and celebrities. Then, when they grow too big to be cuddled, if they are very lucky, they end up in a zoo, but most likely they will be drugged and then gunned down in captivity by a wealthy foreigner, paying up to £50,000 for the right to do so.
These helpless young lions, by now are not even a shadow of their natural selves, with no fear of humans and nowhere to escape to even if they wanted to. There is no hunting involved here; it is just cold blooded slaughter of a tame animal.
An animal, that since human culture began, has been revered as the King of all animals. A beautiful, supremely majestic creature whose name, nature and image we have used through the millennia as symbols of strength, divinity, courage and grace.
The Lion is surely mankind’s ultimate power animal, and yet here we are in the 21st century, with a legal industry that strips away all their power, respect and freedom, wrecking their genetics through interbreeding so that reintroduction into the wild becomes impossible, and then gunning them down for the sake of what?
Man’s twisted ego that somehow believes he can claim that power for himself. Its head may end up as a trophy on a wall, and very likely its bones will find their way into another expanding Chinese industry that sells lion bone as a tonic to boost our sex drive. How low we have fallen?
There are now over twice as many captive lions in South Africa as there are running wild and these shameful industries mean that poaching of the free lions is increasing.
Recent environmental studies have put lions firmly on the endangered list. However, the rare White Lions, known as the sacred animal of Africa, are even more prized as trophies, so those few of them that are free are acutely endangered, to say the least.
If this is a cause that tugs at your heart, as it has mine, there’s something coming along soon that we can all show up for, to help our lion friends, and in so doing help ourselves.
On 15 March, there is a Global March for Lions taking place in over 55 cities across the world, to put pressure on the South African president to ban canned and trophy hunting for good, to demand that our governments ban the importation of all lion parts and trophies (why on Earth would this be legal)? and to demand that China ban all products containing lion bone.
I’ve been to visit these white lions for myself. Words just don’t get close when trying to sum up what it is to sit in their majestic presence. We should roar our support for these beautiful regal cousins, who have given us so much, especially here in the UK. From Richard the Lionheart to the British Lions, these Great Cats are etched deep into our nation’s psyche.
Now it is our turn to be lionhearted, to stand up for them and demand that the King of animals live the life of majesty and freedom that nature intended. Photos and video.