Global March For Lions

On the 15th March 2014, People across the globe took part in a March for Lions.
The aim of the march was to raise awareness around the industry of “canned hunting”

Jerome with his cat Gwynne
Jerome at home with his own “white lioness” Gwynne

 

Dear Friends, I have been wanting to post this for two weeks but we were holding out for a guardian exclusive, which finally happened today with an edited version on their online site. So please forgive the tardiness of this news, because it was all of you it was originally meant for.

I have recently returned from an incredible trip to South Africa where I was fortunate enough to encounter many of our wonderful animal companions running wild in their homelands, as well as meeting some of the beautiful local South African people who share those same homelands.

Just before Christmas I read a book called ‘The Mystery of the White Lions’ by Linda Tucker. It is an extraordinary story of the author’s journey of discovery, following an incident in the African bush that completely changes her life direction. A story that features the sacred White Lions of Timbavati, their connection to the Golden Age of Ancient Egypt, and the prophecies of their reappearance at a time of great global crisis. It tells of Linda’s remarkable personal journey as she realises she is being called to save the White Lions, by the local shamans and the lions themselves. Then follows her heroic efforts to introduce them back into the wild against all odds.

I couldn’t put the book down and before I knew it; I had signed up as a patron and ambassador for the Global White Lion Trust, (GWLT), and was on my way to Africa to meet Linda and her team, and of course the White Lions themselves. And what breathtakingly beautiful creatures they are, I mean really, words just don’t get close when trying to sum up what it is to sit in their majestic presence.

The White Lions survival as a free roaming species is hanging by a thread, indeed without Linda’s efforts they wouldn’t even be recognised as a sub-species and there would likely be no White Lions at all in the wild. Why is this? 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 ones stomach shudder at how disconnected from his heart man can be. It is known as “canned hunting”. This despicable practice involves taking cubs from their captive mothers at birth, (this 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 £50k for the right to do so. These helpless young lions, by now 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? How disconnected we have become from Mother Nature and from our own natural wisdom and power, that we could somehow believe we need to ingest lion bone in order to perform “like a man” in bed.

There are now over twice as many captive lions in South Africa than there are running wild and these shameful industries mean that poaching of the free lions is rapidly increasing. Recent environmental studies have put lions firmly on the endangered list. However, the White Lions, because of their beauty and rarity, are even more prized as trophies, so the handful of them that are free are acutely endangered, to say the least. There are now, thanks to Linda and her team, just seven white lions being monitored and protected in two expansive reserves owned by the GWLT, and to continue their work they are desperate for help, to buy more land and expand the lion numbers, but also simply to maintain their existing work which costs over a thousand pounds a week. They rely totally on donations, so any help or support we can give them is going to be so crucial to the lions on going survival and freedom.

If this is a cause that tugs at your heart, as it has mine, and you want to do something about canned hunting there’s something coming along this Saturday that we can all show up for, to help our lion friends, and in so doing help ourselves. On March 15th 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. To generally ROAR our support for our beautiful regal cousins the lions, 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. We are living in extremely challenging times. I know myself it is hard not to be overwhelmed by the amount of “bad news” all around us, by the extent of mans senseless inhumane actions, towards each other and towards the living planet that nurtures and supports all of life on this precious earth. It can just feel too much sometimes, like our lives surely can’t make enough difference; in truth it was only through being in Africa recently, that I realised that somewhere, subtly, I had actually started to give up hope on this whole planetary adventure we are on.

But sitting with the Lions in their extraordinary presence, experiencing the vast expanses of natural African landscape, undeveloped by our exploitive hands, with wild animals roaming free in the land they call the cradle of mankind, and meeting the local South Africans, especially the children with such hopeful joyous spirits shining through their innocence, free citizens of a nation that not long ago was so blighted by the apartheid regime. Well all these blessed things blasted my heart open , renewing my faith that its never too late.., and reminded me that when people join together, united in their burning hearts, anything is possible, and that keeps being proved throughout history. I know I am not alone in feeling that this Saturday’s global march is about way more than saving a species, as if that weren’t enough. The lion is the Apex predator sitting on top of the food chain, and any decent naturalist will tell you that this delicately balanced ecosystem we live in will collapse if we continue to interfere with it.

The elders and shamans of all our remaining indigenous people have been telling us this for a long time now; the Kogi tribe of Columbia’s sierra nevada, who escaped to the mountains to preserve their culture before Columbus arrived, have just issued their last warning to “younger brother”, that’s us. A message they say we did not listen to when they first made contact twenty years ago, via a BBC documentary. The message in short being, “Change your destructive ways: Respect and protect the Natural World or she will collapse.”

So to the Global March. The way I see it is, just as Nelson Mandela inspired us 20 yrs ago to stand up and demand freedom for him and his people, so it is now with the Lions, inspiring us by their nature to have the courage to stand up and roar for them and all their endangered cousins of the animal kingdom. To also roar for ourselves, to wake up and reconnect to our natural heritage, to be the good custodians of this blessed planet that I’m sure in our highest purpose we are meant to be. Because surely a world without Lions , Elephants and Rhino running free, is a world not worth living in. We have to make sure that we never need to explain that story to our children; we have to dream our future now so that our children can live the lives we would wish for them. So fellow Lionhearts, come join us on March 15th, whether it be London, Birmingham, New York or Johannesburg, and let us walk and sing and ROAR together for the sake of the Lions and for the sake of us all.

See you all there!

PS. If you are interested in reading one of Linda Tucker’s book on the white lions, some advice. If you like things quite out there, detailed and esoteric, “Mystery of the White Lions” is definitely the one for you, its an epic spiritual unfolding. If you want a shorter more down to earth version then “Saving the White Lions” is the book for you. They are both great in their own ways.

But most importantly, regarding canned hunting, as advised by an MP last year, is to write a personal plea to your local MP asking him to lobby for the ban on importation of any lion parts, and the same for all endangered species. People pressure is everything here and its definitely the personal touch that counts, as they are much less swayed by standard letters. Good luck and may the force be with you Lionhearts! J x “

Mystery of the White LionsMystery of the White Lions
Esoteric and epic
Saving the White LionsSaving the White Lions
Shorter, less esoteric, but still brilliant and inspiring