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Ghosts of Africa , White Lions ,Legend or Fact

by Karen-Jane Dudley

The first scientific records showing evidence of white cubs in the wild was not confirmed until 1970 by researcher Chris McBride in the Timbavati Reserve, South Africa, this news would result in whites becoming instant targets for hunters who regarded the white pelt as the ultimate hunting trophy resulting in pushing the numbers ever closer to extinction, the decision was finally taken after much deliberation to remove the cubs from the wild, their removal from their natural habitat was the beginning for the launch of Operation White lion ,a programme that would require help from private collections to commercial breeders, fears were voiced over the cub’s removal from their natural habitat would effectively mark the end of the whites important presence in the wild ,br>As with many conservation efforts during past decades, a number of programmes took a downside with many captive bred cubs being sold to circuses to add an air of magical enhancement, but most alarming with cubs also being bred by commercial hunters for the growing barbarism of canned hunting with wealthy hunters paying in excess of $200,000 to shoot a white lion for means of personal pleasure for the prized pelt.

In our continuing knowledge, commitment and understanding into climate and conservation efforts worldwide, today’s generation of whites face a totally different challenge, to finally prepare to reinstate the leucistic gene back into the wilds of the African bush, a process that may take many generations with the successful introduction and breeding of integrated tawnies and whites to enable the leucism to enter the specie gene pool,
The ground breaking and remarkable dedication of the Global White lion Protection Trust will once again herald a chance for the whites to rightfully take its place amongst Africa’s rich culture and wildlife,but even once the recessive gene has been re introduced it may be decades even centuries before whites may be seen roaming free and gracing Africa in numbered prides, many have voiced opposition to the proposed reintroduction claiming the white gene should be allowed to die out naturally, but natural selection has proved its strength with further evidence of white cubs being born into a wild tawny pride within the Timbavati range , clearly showing that the gene is still strong and evident in the wild

Ghost of Africa
Ghost of Africa

Opinions have been divided over the whites successful chance of its long term return to its natural habitat, with many convinced the white colouration and therefore lack of camouflage will become its nemesis,
But with the lion being a predominantly large prey predator, much of the large prey are held in vastly numbered herds which may help in this quest,
A natural survival instinct combined with the coordinated hunting skills of a pride may aid in their success rate, other challenges may prove to become a more important factor, with young males looking to take over established prides at every new opportunity, mortality rate for cubs is high, with new males ridding the pride of young cubs to establish its own bloodline, without the leucistic gene present in the bloodline this will effectively lessen the chance of white cubs being born into future litters and with tawny numbers significantly higher than the rare whites will signal a natural lottery process

White princess
White princess

I have been honoured and privileged in recent months to finally come face to face with this mythical legend in the form of two important young white cubs Thabo and Nahla,

*Sadly on 9th May 2007 female white lioness Nala passed away, after showing briefs signs of illness sadly Nala’s health deteriorated rapidly, after a series of extensive tests and scans carried out by an expert team the diagnosis for Nala showed a severe deviation to her spinal column, the heart breaking decision was taken to end Nala’s suffering
To everyone who had the honour of becoming so close to Nala during her short time with us,a deeply emotional mark was clearly left on everyone , she had taught us so much, her zest for life and her affectionate nature had made its mark so deeply, a beautiful little lady who will be remembered with great affection
There are highs and lows in our continuing crusade for conservation sadly Nala showed us both
Nala was a wonderful ambassador for the White Lion Conservation movement and trust; all who met her instantly loved her. She will be sadly missed but never forgotten
Through the lessons that Nala taught us it is now vital that her sad passing was not in vain
She showed us the importance of this magnificent specie and to help understand her very existence and those of her kin who we must now urgently protect

Around the globe we are now becoming increasingly aware as to what is happening to endangered species. We have to stop and think what impact our specie is making on the natural world, how selfish and cruel can a hunter or poacher be to shoot an animal for his pleasure or profit, remember that extinction is for life, what can we do for our next generation to ensure they know what a White Lion is, and to also be aware of their known natural habitat in the wild and what we can do to safe guard it’s future.
To look into the eyes of a lioness and see her pure soul, see how fragile a strong animal can be and just how important she is for her cubs.
From the Coliseum games to circuses shows, humans have always had curiosity to witness just how powerful and aggressive a predator can be. It’s time to change our vision, to start to see the tenderness and beauty of nature
Every time we remember Tasmanian Tigers, Dodos, and many other extinct species we have to look at just how many more can we possibly allow to suffer the same tragic fate ,the answer is simple , NO MORE
What can we do to avoid our sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters and beyond being denied the right to share the beauty of these animals , we must act now and together we can make a difference