“I was not the lion, but it fell upon me to give the lion’s roar” Winston Churchill
August 10th is World Lion Day.
Since the very beginning of man’s time on earth lions have played an instrumental role in our lives: religiously, culturally, symbolically and economically.
No matter where you may find yourself in the world today you will find that with very little effort you will see a symbol or representation of a lion. Statues, flags, coins, heraldry…in fact I would be so bold as to say that lions are potentially one of the most prolific symbols on earth. Chances are, however, that you will not see a live lion today! The startling truth is that only 25 000 or so REAL and WILD lions exist. Wind back the clock a 100 years and you would have found somewhere in excess of a million lions laying claim to the wilderness.
I quote Beverly Joubert’s frightening words and urge you to let these words sink in…
“There have never been as few lions on the planet since 3.5 million years ago, when we think that lions evolved from the early saber-toothed cats.”
So what has gone wrong?
Humanity! Our greed, our expansion and our thoughtless slaughtering of these apex predators have decimated numbers throughout Africa and Asia. The lion stands for honor, courage, leadership and strength – all characters which by in large we humans today have lost.
I am not sure if we should be celebrating today, or rather mourning the loss of lions. Mourning the actions of our fellow man and the cruelty we show to animals. Regardless of the way you feel what is essential is that today, and every other day, you take the time to help in spreading the much needed conservation awareness and help us save the lion before it is too late.
There is hope. There are still people who are dedicating their lives to the preservation of the second largest cat in the world. There are still places where lions roam free. There are places left in this world where you can have the privilege of watching a pride of lions moving through the long grass, or falling asleep to the roar of the king.
SUJAN is proud to be a part of one such place…the great Masai Mara. Elephant Pepper Camp is carefully nestled into the open plains, home to the greatest migration on earth, and sanctuary to one of the last strongholds of wild lions. I was there just over a month ago and was delighted to see in excess of 40 individuals, including males, females and cubs.
SUJAN, together with Elephant Pepper Camp are doing their bit to help ensure that our future is one in which lions still roam free.
For me the lion gives a raw lesson in life: hold your head high and even in times of conflict conduct yourself with dignity.
Do your bit today for Lions!
Written and photographed by Adam Bannister