Posted by WorkingAbroad Projects on Sunday, 29th December 2013
"Hundreds in captivity. Their genetics modified. Technically extinct. 3 prides in their natural habitat." - Global White Lion Protection Trust
White Lions are a genetic rarity in the world due to their distinguished coats. They are endemic to the Timbavati region bordering the Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Some schools of thought believe that the white lion are albino, genetically inferior and unable to survive in the wild without human intervention. However, this has not scientifically proven and the Global White Lion Protection Trust (GWLPT) have successfully reintroduced these animals into their natural habitat where they have been breeding and hunting very well on their own. The unique genes which causes the white fur is also carried in some tawny lions and occasionally white lion cubs are born into their prides. We hope that this continues to occur for their longevity and to keep them from extinction.
The White Lion were technically extinct for 14 years due to extensive hunting for their unique furs since their discovery by Western travellers in 1938. However, alongside reintroduction into the wild they also began to be spotted occasionally in the wild due to their genes being carried in other lion prides.
The repopulation is great news; but hunting is still a major problem as there are still no laws against the activity in South Africa. This has lead to cruelty in the form of ‘canned hunting’. This is where white lions are removed from their natural habitat or bred in enclosures then bottle fed, handled by children in zoos with poor conditions and finally released to then be shot. The White Lions Homeland organisation warns us to not support captive breeding centres where cubs are open to the public for petting as these can often be linked with canned hunting activities (even though they claim to be protecting them). There is a need to support recognised programmes who genuinely reintroduce white lions into the wild and protect them in their natural habitat.
Here with us at WorkingAbroad you can get information about joining our local project for protecting white lions in South Africa. Here is a link to our White Lion Conservation Project.
Volunteer on this project to get the chance to work with the Global White Lion Protection Trust (GWLPT) which have implemented the world’s first initiative for reinroducing the White Lion to the Timbavati region. Get involved in lion monitoring, anti-poaching activities, on-the-ground research and community development within our programme. The GWLPT have made a significant difference through their hard work and with the help of their volunteers to reverse the extinction of the White Lion. They were considered technically extinct for 14 years, but three new White Lion cubs have been born to the project and released alongside their pride to go on to be successful in the wild.
To learn more about these amazing animals who, unfortunately, seem to have many odds set against them read Mystery of the White Lion by Linda Tucker (who also founded the GWLPT). Preview the book here.
Be a part of this life-changing experience to help ensure the future and protection of these unique, beautiful and under-appreciated animals!
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