South African zookeeper known as the “Lion Whisperer” fights against cub petting and the cowardly canned hunt, whilst helping the affected lions.
A deadly serious business
In 2007 Kevin Richardson was referred to as the “Lion Whisperer” by a British newspaper, and the name stuck. There is probably no one in the world with a more recognised relationship with big cats. The most popular YouTube video of Richardson rolling around with lions has been viewed more than 25 million times and has more than 11,000 comments, but it is a deadly serious business — he is literally saving their lives.
Kevin’s Sanctuary transforms the way humans think, interact and behave towards big cats
The Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary transforms the way humans think, interact and behave toward the keeping of large carnivores. The sanctuary’s ultimate goal is to minimise the number of large carnivores being kept in captivity and to highlight the direct link between the cub petting industry and the ‘canned’ hunting industry, by educating the unsuspecting public to the horrors associated with this unscrupulous practise.
Ultimately, say the sanctuary, they would like to see both practises made illegal. The sanctuary aims to maximise efforts towards keeping carnivores in their natural habitats and is currently home not only to lion, but spotted hyena, striped hyena and black leopard.
The sanctuary’s main focus is to increase public awareness about the dangers facing not only lions but also other carnivores native to the land. Through education, social media and tourism, the sanctuary exposes visitors and locals to the natural biodiversity that exists and the current plight of lions while shedding light on how individuals and communities can make a difference.
The land that the sanctuary is on (1200 hectares) was previous farmland so, in order for it to be sustainable habitat for carnivores and other wildlife, it needs to be restored and maintained. Additionally, the sanctuary continues to build enclosures and enrichment facilities for the animals that are not free-roaming to ensure that they have the best possible environment.
Cub petting, and how it leads to ‘canned hunts’
To date the issue of ‘canned hunting’ is still around but what people seem to miss is the link between petting a cub and the ultimate shooting of that same lion in a so called ‘canned hunt’.
The first question one needs to ask is, what ultimately happens to all the hundreds, if not thousands of cubs that are too old and dangerous to be petted by general public? What happens to lions once they are too old to walk safely with? Certainly not all can land up in reputable zoos around the world or game farms in South Africa that most petting facilities will tell you they go to. They also definitely don’t repopulate wilderness areas as others would have you believe. There simply aren’t any areas suitable for captive lions that aren’t already populated by wild lions. They land up being sold at a premium to farms that are in some way or another connected to the ‘canned hunting’ industry.
Today’s lion cub becomes tomorrow’s trophy, and the unsuspecting tourists have blood on their hands.
They are unwittingly part of the process of ‘canned hunting’, because they have been hoodwinked into believing that their contribution of funds is going into lion conservation.
‘Canned hunting’ isn’t a single event of a pseudo hunter shooting a lion in a situation whereby the lion has been ear marked and stands no chance of fair escape, it’s a process starting with the petting of a lion cub.
Lions are not the only creatures who fall under the sanctuary’s care. The much-maligned hyena is an animal very dear to Kevin, who wishes to educate the wider world about their importance in the wild, and draw attention to their intelligence and character. (See below)
To check out the sanctuary's website CLICK
See how you can become involved or contribute towards the care of these majestic creatures. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to be able visit in person and stay in the amazing accommodation on sanctuary property for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You'll find all that and more on their website.