The Global White Lion Protection Trust joined nearly 800 animal lovers who rallied in Trafalgar Square on Saturday March 15th on a worldwide day of protest against the “canned hunting” of Africa’s lions.
In more than 60 cities around the planet, thousands marched to demand a ban on the abuse of breeding captive animals to be shot in a confined area. They are often drugged and conditioned from an early age not to run away.
The Global March for Lions was organised by the Campaign Against Canned Hunting. In London, actor and star of ‘Ripper Street’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ Jerome Flynn, addressed the crowds as patron of the Global White Lion Protection Trust (WLT) which backed the event.
The WLT also secured powerful backing from Archbishop Desmond Tutu whose pre-recorded prayer of support for the lions was played at several events around the world before the marches set off.
He said: “We pray that we may know that we are all created by you for abundance of life, and that includes wildlife, and particularly at this time we consider the risk faced by wild White Lions.
“We thank you for those who made public this horrendous risk and pray that they will succeed in saving all of your wildlife, but especially in this instance White Lions.”
The biggest event was in Cape Town, but protestors also took to the streets in cities including Paris, London, New York, Dubai, Hong Kong, Washington, Jerusalem, Amsterdam and Sydney.
In the UK there were marches in London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Sheffield and Liverpool with a combined attendance of 1300 people making their voices heard. That included singing a specially written song by award-winning performer and composer David Chabeaux which will be available to download at http://www.davidchabeaux.com/ with all proceeds going to the WLT.
Lifelong animal lover Jerome was 18 when he met his first lions in South Africa, and earlier this year he went back to the country to visit the WLT’s operation in the Timbavati region.
Jerome said: “To see hundreds of supporters in London join thousands taking part around the world was amazing. The crowds proved the strength of public opinion demanding policy-makers change the law in the UK and abroad to stop canned hunting.
“The White Lions are astonishing creatures; magical, regal and powerful. We have to continue the fight to save them from extinction so our children can see them living in the wild – not grotesquely killed with their heads mounted on selfish hunters’ walls.”
Marching in Cape Town was the founder of the WLT, former catwalk model Linda Tucker, who last year brought the issue to a gathering of political campaigners at the House of Commons.
Linda said: “Sadly, because of their unique beauty, White Lions are specifically targeted by the canned hunting industry. This threat is very real and the loss of these magical creatures would be a historic human tragedy.”
There are fewer than 4,000 lions left in the wild in South Africa, but more than 8,000 in captivity being bred for the bullet. Such farming is disastrous for the genetics of the species, and it also involves seizing wild lions to introduce fresh blood into both captive breeding and the sale of lion bones into Asia for traditional medicines.
It’s not just Asia, however. In the six years from 2007 to 2012, for example, lion trophy exports from South Africa to the EU numbered 1,206 – including 20 to the UK and 443 to Spain, the biggest of Europe’s importers.
Linda launched the WLT in 2002 after being rescued from a terrifying – yet inspirational – night-time close-encounter with a lion pride when her safari vehicle broke down and was surrounded by the animals.
White Lions have been artificially removed from the wild into these canned hunting operations, with only 500 left globally in captivity. But she has succeeded in securing 2,000 hectares of the lion’s homeland in the Timbavati region as a protected area; fenced, guarded and maintained by a security team.
To sign the online petition against canned hunting, visit: http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_lion_slaughter_for_sex_aides_rb_en/?pv=88&rc=fb
For more information about the Global White Lion Protection Trust, visit http://whitelions.org/