White pride

Why is the white lion so special to you? 

“During a safari in 1991, when I was still working as an advertising executive in London, the group I was traveling with in a broken-down jeep was enclosed by an angry lion pride. Suddenly a local medicine woman appeared; she walked fearlessly through the lions and saved our lives. Three years later, I gave up my job in advertising and went looking for her, and found out she was known as the Lion Queen of Timbavati. She taught me about the white lion and from that moment on, I devoted my life to these animals.”

How are the white lions connected to the Timbavati region?

“The greater Timbavati region in the northeast of South Africa is the only place where white lions have been born in the wild. In the word “timbavati,” you hear “tsimba”—the word for lion in many African tribes. “Vati” means to come from the heavens. So this is the place where the lions came from the heavens. Indigenous people believe they are king of animals and children of the sun god. That’s why it is even more tragic they were removed from their homelands artificially and put into zoos, circuses and breeding hunting camps.”

Why is the white lion not protected against these hunting practices?

“White lions are not yet officially classified a subspecies of the Panthera leo, and there is no legislation that protects this rarity. There are a lot of prejudices about white lions—for example, that they can’t survive in nature because they cannot camouflage themselves; that’s why they need to be held in captivity. Research proves that that’s simply not true. Geneticists recently found the genetic makeup of the white lion, which could lead to big breakthroughs in this case.”

The indigenous people of Africa believe the survival of the white lion is related to the survival of humanity. What do you think about that? 

“The truth is that when nature disappears, we all die with it. And the white lions are a symbol of the most magnificent gift from nature. If we can’t save the king of animals, we have lost our value system. My dream is that these incredible animals will be able to take over their pride lands in the Timbavati again and that humanity can live harmoniously together with the most dangerous animals in the world.” | Elleke Bal | Find out more: whitelions.org | REad an excerpt from Saving the white lions on theoptimist.com/whitelions

 

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White pride

Why is the white lion so special to you? 

“During a safari in 1991, when I was still working as an advertising executive in London, the group I was traveling with in a broken-down jeep was enclosed by an angry lion pride. Suddenly a local medicine woman appeared; she walked fearlessly through the lions and saved our lives. Three years later, I gave up my job in advertising and went looking for her, and found out she was known as the Lion Queen of Timbavati. She taught me about the white lion and from that moment on, I devoted my life to these animals.”

How are the white lions connected to the Timbavati region?

“The greater Timbavati region in the northeast of South Africa is the only place where white lions have been born in the wild. In the word “timbavati,” you hear “tsimba”—the word for lion in many African tribes. “Vati” means to come from the heavens. So this is the place where the lions came from the heavens. Indigenous people believe they are king of animals and children of the sun god. That’s why it is even more tragic they were removed from their homelands artificially and put into zoos, circuses and breeding hunting camps.”

Why is the white lion not protected against these hunting practices?

“White lions are not yet officially classified a subspecies of the Panthera leo, and there is no legislation that protects this rarity. There are a lot of prejudices about white lions—for example, that they can’t survive in nature because they cannot camouflage themselves; that’s why they need to be held in captivity. Research proves that that’s simply not true. Geneticists recently found the genetic makeup of the white lion, which could lead to big breakthroughs in this case.”

The indigenous people of Africa believe the survival of the white lion is related to the survival of humanity. What do you think about that? 

“The truth is that when nature disappears, we all die with it. And the white lions are a symbol of the most magnificent gift from nature. If we can’t save the king of animals, we have lost our value system. My dream is that these incredible animals will be able to take over their pride lands in the Timbavati again and that humanity can live harmoniously together with the most dangerous animals in the world.” | Elleke Bal | Find out more: whitelions.org | REad an excerpt from Saving the white lions on theoptimist.com/whitelions

 

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