Become a member and help save our iconic species

To take the next step in our journey and be eligible for funding opportunities it’s imperative that For the Love of Wildlife applies for DGR Status (deductible gift recipient).

It does mean we’ll have more compliance and accounting responsibilities but we’re also looking into collaborating with international conservation groups in some exciting new projects.

Membership means you’ll be kept up-to-date on our progress and exciting news, with our continued and expected growth, membership offers!

$20 a year, it’s a bargain!!!

We’re always looking for passionate and dedicated volunteers and certainly appreciate ongoing financial support…no matter how small.

Please print out the form and email back to us… or email for further information.

Lion cubs imported by private Australian zoo from South Africa’s canned hunting industry.

Ukutula, an industrial-sized predator facility outside Johannesburg, South Africa, has been in the firing line from conservationists and animal activists for over a decade. The place runs one of the most sophisticated lion cub petting, voluntourism and trading operations, and on countless occasions they have been exposed for selling their lions on to other operators once they are no longer good for their commercial operations.

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Where do these lion cubs come from and where do they end up? Photo credit: Ian Michler

The explosive documentary Blood Lions has exposed how the predator industry operates with scenes shot at Ukutula clearly showing as many as 27 lions cubs being handled by visitors and volunteers. The film asks the leading question “where do these cubs come from and where do they go”?

Ian Michler, lead role in the documentary states; “There is absolutely no conservation value whatsoever to breeding lions in captivity under these conditions, and especially so if they have been hand reared. These lions can never be released to the wild and volunteers are being conned into believing they are making a contribution to securing the future of lions.”

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Volunteers are paying up to US$1000 a week for the experience of handling cubs and Ukutula can have up to 25 volunteers at any given time, clearly a significant money spinner for the operation.

Australian Federal MP Jason Wood was so shocked at the damning evidence Donalea Patman, Founder of For the Love of Wildlife took to him that he worked with then Minister for Environment, Greg Hunt to do something as he felt canned hunting was morally reprehensible. Minister Hunt created a global first by banning the importation of lion trophies and body parts, a courageous and visionary step with France and the Netherlands following Australia’s lead. The USA government has since also implemented far stricter laws for importing lion trophies from Africa.

Despite consultation with the Government and a screening of Blood Lions in Parliament, a private zoo in New South Wales has been able to import cubs from Ukutula in South Africa.

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Senator Lee Rhiannon with For the Love of Wildlife founder, Donalea Patman, Ian Michler who is lead role in Blood Lions and investigative journalist, Minister Greg Hunt and economist Roderick Campbell, author of Ecolarge.

Ukutula has implemented a system of tracking their lions to assure buyers that they’re not destined for the canned hunting industry but given the information is confidential, you have to question how effective this is.  In addition, not a single recognized lion ecologist or predator conservation agency is working with them.

Ms Patman states; “We do not need more lions (or any big cats) in Australia. There’s absolutely no conservation value and we’re supporting this unscrupulous business by allowing these imports.”

“The world is outraged over the brutality of canned hunting and we’re trying to educate the tourism industry and volunteer groups not to engage in exploitative animal encounters – cub petting and lion walking being part of the canned hunting cycle. We are sending mixed messages allowing these cubs into Australia but saying don’t do it in other countries.”

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Billabong Zoo in Port Macquarie publicly states that it wishes to breed from these cubs. Are we not replicating the trend in South Africa which has been globally condemned  by conservation and animal welfare groups as purely exploitative practises?

Billabong Zoo Facebook page statement:

“In order to import lions to Australia both the Australian authorities and the South African authorities have a strict permitting process to ensure the animals are sourced from a legitimate and licensed facility and to ensure they are going to be used for conservation purposes. In Australia lions are treated as a CITES 1 species, a higher level of protection than anywhere else in the world. This means that they can only be imported as part of a conservation breeding and education program. The Australia CITES office did research Ukutula and were satisfied that they were not part of the canned hunting industry – if they weren’t satisfied we would never have been granted our import permit. These cubs were also approved by the Zoo Aquarium Association to be accepted into the Australian breeding program for lions – this approval process included the scrutiny of, and acceptance by a number of individuals involved in this organisation. Secondly, Ukutula themselves insisted that Billabong Zoo become a member of EcoScan, a program which offers lifetime tracking of individual animals to ensure they are only used for ethical purposes and are not part of the hunting industry. Ukutula could not be a member of EcoScan if they hadn’t already proven themselves to not be part of the canned hunting industry. Thirdly our zoo vet personally visited Ukutula to inspect the lion cubs and the facility prior to the transfer, and returned with nothing but praise for the operators, the staff, the facility and the animals. The process for Billabong Zoo to import lion cubs has been a huge undertaking, and one that we have spent years bringing together. These animals and the sending facility, Ukutula have been researched and accepted by various government bodies and zoo industry officials. Throughout the entire process Billabong Zoo has remained transparent with the sourcing and importation of these animals, and at no time has any government or zoo official raised concerns with how these animals were sourced. The cubs, Milo and Misty have travelled and settled extremely well and we are so proud of the impact these little ambassadors have already had in raising awareness about the plight of the African Lion.”

“There is in fact only one piece of post-doctoral research (2012 study by Dr Luders and others) in the list of 14 links. The only research of substance appears to have been the improved felid semen collection study by Dr Luders and others that is not even lion specific. It involved a very small proportion of the Ukutula lions (7 out of an estimated 100).  It does seem clear to us that Ukutula is primarily a commercial lion breeding venture, not a research facility.” Chris Mercer, Campaign Against Canned Hunting.

We are calling on the Australian Government to show consistency. We cannot condemn South Africa’s predator farms and the cycle of exploitation and then allow cubs from those same operators to be shipped here. In addition, we call on the Australian public to refrain from visiting these places; think before you visit and know that handling a wild animal commits them to a lifetime of misery with no chance of being reintroduced to the wild.

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USA bans trophy imports of captive South African lions

This is a significant blow to the canned hunting industry.

South Africa’s defiance despite the global outrage, choosing to side with SAPA (South Africa Predator Breeders Association) in supporting the brutal industry of breeding predators for profit. South Africa’s Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom states in Blood Lions that it’s bad for brand South Africa. 

The recent outcome of CITES CoP17 had South Africa and the hunting groups pulling out all efforts to maintain this abhorrent industry, lions subsequently left at Appendix II listing despite the IUCN asking the South African Government to address canned hunting and work to closing it down by 2020. Unbelievably, CITES approved the trade in lion bones which has conservationists reeling in disbelief as supporting the continued growth of this industry, which supplements the diminishing tiger bone industry, leaves wild populations at risk – wild body parts are what consumers are wanting.

Overwhelming evidence and undercover footage exposes how pathetic these psychopaths are – shooting scared animals out of trees and warthog holes, slapping each other on the back as if they’d actually accomplished something but all they’ve done is blown the hell out of a hand reared, tame animal.

Ongoing illegal activities take place and prove how morally devoid the “hunters” and operators are, the tolerance by authorities, by SAPA and PHASA (Professional Hunters Association of South Africa) in allowing this level of behaviour in the name of “sport”.

Australia took action when then Minister of Environment, Greg Hunt announced the ban on lion trophies and body parts March 2015 creating a global first which was followed by France and the Netherlands. With up to 70% of canned hunting market being Americans, this ban has a significant impact on the lucrative market.  It starts with renting out cubs which are torn from their mothers a few days after birth for tourists to “pay and play”, lion walking until they are too old and are returned to the death camps waiting to be bought online for a quick, efficient, cost effective and guaranteed kill.

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Ian Michler, lead role and consultant Blood Lions with USFWS Director, Dan Ashe.

Congratulations Blood Lions…this is a massive step in lion conservation. Still much to do with changing behaviour and belief surrounding “sustainable utilisation” and wildlife having to “pay it’s way”. Commoditising wildlife can never be a solution and we must find a way to let wild be wild, maintaining wilderness and habitat, keeping human consumption and greed off the table when it comes to our protecting our natural world.

http://africageographic.com/blog/usa-bans-trophy-imports-captive-south-african-lions/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/wildlife-watch-canned-lion-hunting-trophies-banned/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/a-major-step-forward-for-lion-conservation-in-africa_us_5808f6ffe4b099c434319294

A call for domestic ban of ivory and rhino horn in Australia

The Australian government will be asked to enact a total ban on the domestic trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn in a communiqué that will be hand delivered to Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg on Monday 26 September.

Signed by over 50 conservation organisations from around the world, the ban would be a move to ensure Australia commits to playing its role in saving elephants and rhinos from extinction in the wild in the near future.

The communique will be presented by Australian NGO founders Donalea Patman (For the Love of Wildlife) and Dr Lynn Johnson (Breaking The Brand) together with Fiona Gordon of New Zealand based environmental firm Gordon Consulting and Rebecca Keeble of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

In 2014 Ms Patman took the plight of Africa’s lions and the canned hunting industry to her local MP Jason Wood. Just 18 months later the former Environment Minister Greg Hunt made the decision for Australia to be the first country to ban lion trophies and body parts from entering the country. The ban was implemented just months before Cecil the famous lion was killed.

Since then, France and the Netherlands have followed Australia by banning lion trophies. The United States has severely restricted import laws to curb the canned hunting and captive breeding industries.

Ms Patman said that despite Australia’s strict border controls, the sale of ivory and rhino horn has been seen in shopping strips, auction houses and online. IFAW has released it’s report“Under the Hammer” which exposes the rampant trade, showing just how much is traded in the oceania region.

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“This simply isn’t good enough given 30 per cent of elephants have been wiped out in the last seven years and rhinos are being butchered on a daily basis.

“Lions are being farmed for hunting and to satisfy a growing demand for their bones,” she said.

The communique coincides with the opening of 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Protection levels and whether or not to legalise trade of products from these animals will be on the agenda.

“Australia is geographically positioned and complicit in the illegal trade and it is time that we see a greater effort to combat trade,” Ms Patman said.

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“It would seem that Australian laws are not fully enforced. Auction houses self-regulate and without enough officers in the field, there is a staggering rise in wildlife items for sale.

“An ivory shipment was discovered at Perth airport last year and an investigation by South African Airways found the cargo was mislabelled. Despite communication from the government, we are uncertain as to the outcome and what happened to the ivory,” she said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-09/customs-seize-ivory-in-air-cargo-at-perth/6381712

Ms Patman is also co-hosting this Saturday’s Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions together with My Green World. The march calls for member nations of CITES to vote for the strongest protection levels for elephants, rhinos and lions, and to vote against legalising trade of products made from their body parts.

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“We are fast running out of time to save these animals from extinction,” Ms Patman said.

“With what we know to date, we will see these species gone within the next 10 years,” she said.

The letter to the Minister states: “We cannot bear to be witness to the continued annihilation of these animals. As we mark the start of CITES CoP17 in Johannesburg and the Global March for Elephant, Rhino and Lion, on 24 September 2016 in Australia and around the world, we stand as one, we stand for wildlife and ask the Australian Federal Government to enact a complete ban on the domestic trade of rhino horn and elephant ivory.”

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Contact:

Donalea Patman – Director, For the Love of Wildlife

fortheloveofwildife@gmail.com | +61417 939 042

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Newspaper Articles and Reports

Bryan Seymour, 7 News covers the chilling footage brought to light by safari cameraman Derek Gobbett.

7 NEWS September 2016

Explosive footage and the truth exposed by Derek Gobbett, a safari cameraman accompanying 10 hunters on De Klerk Safaris concession hosted by Stormberg Elangeni Safaris. This is the full story which was featured in the recent BBC story.

A Parliamentary Inquiry into the register of Environmental Organisations who focus work on issues outside of Australia, wanting their deductible gift recipient status removed. This article by Roderick Campbell lays it bare.

https://newmatilda.com/2016/05/19/breaking-down-party-lions/

The Federal Election in Australia had us featured as part of Jason Wood’s election campaign. Jason Wood held his seat in the electorate of La Trobe with support of the Animal Justice Party.

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Media on CACH’s withdrawal from I’m a Celebrity, Network Ten, Australian Reality TV

Bryan Seymour, 7 News 14 March 2016

Lucy Mae Beers, Daily Mail Australia 16 March 2016

Ebony Bowden, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 March 2016

Courier Mail, 16 March 2016

Scoopla, 16 March 2016

 

The Animals Post 2015 UK, 2015

International Business Times – 31 March, 2015

Mojo (Monash Journalism) 16 March, 2015

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By Isabel McCrea, IFAW Australia published 13 March, 2015.

IFAW Article

 

Daily Maverick

By Peter Borchert, South Africa 15 March 2015

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By FOUR PAWS International

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The Guardian

By Oliver Milman, 13 March 2015

Nova Magazine March Edition by Jeremy Ball

 

Article Mail Newspaper, 4 March, 2015

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Article Herald Sun, Victoria, 3 March, 2015

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Article Saturday Star, Johannesburg, December 6, 2014

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Article The Mail, March 4, 2014

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Leader Community Newspaper, July 4, 2014

Simon Bloch, Durban reports on Australian Government’s initiative (Sunday 6 July, Weekend Argus)

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Article The Mail, March 4, 2014

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Global March Melbourne

More than 135 cities will join the Global March for Elephant, Rhino and Lion on the opening day of Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) to demand these species are listed as Appendix 1 to offer the highest protection possible. The Melbourne event will start at 11am at Alexandra Gardens, walking down South Bank to Red Stair Amphitheatre.

GMFERL Logo  Global March for Elephant, Rhino and Lion – Melbourne

Despite the serious message, this event is asking people to onesie up for wildlife and #MarchAsOnesie for a family friendly event. We want children to be engaged as the future guardians of these animals, to reconnect them to the natural world and show that we deeply care about the plight of Africa’s wildlife, the environment and all species.

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In communities worldwide, extinction anxiety is building and more-and-more concerned citizens are turning to their governments to ask them to step into the void and enact domestic bans.    

The continued slaughter due to poaching, trade, illegal trafficking, human animal conflict and loss of habitat is pushing these species to extinction. If world leaders and Governments around the world don’t take immediate action they will disappear before our very eyes.

The recent elephant census has chilling results. The only place where elephants aren’t being decimated is Kruger National Park in South Africa but then we hear there are whispers of a cull due to the current drought. Heartbreaking news to hear that 26 elephants have been poached in one of the last safe houses in Africa – Botswana.

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The demand on wildlife products from Asia and specifically Vietnam is having a brutal impact. We’re at a loss to understand why there’s still discussion and debate about opening trade on rhino horn and ivory. Despite tough border security Australia is complicit with more than enough evidence of items for sale through retail stores, auction houses and online – many aren’t antiques and certainly don’t have appropriate paperwork.

http://visual.artshub.com.au/news-article/news/museums/gina-fairley/museums-are-the-new-border-control-252061

There’s also concern that the burgeoning taxidermy industry does fall outside the capacity for officers to appropriately investigate, only able to seize illegal products but lack the authority to question or search.

If the slaughter continues at current levels, elephants, rhinos and lions face extinction in the wild within a generation.

But this is not an inevitable scenario, if all countries act now to eliminate demand by closing domestic ivory markets. If demand ends, the poaching will too, giving elephants and rhinos a chance to recover their numbers. The CITES conference is where critical decisions affecting the future of these species will be made, may be the last chance to take bold, principled steps that will give elephants, rhinos and lion a final lifeline to survival.

The captive breeding and canned hunting operations in South Africa feed the lion bone trade and despite Australia banning the importation of lion trophies and body parts in March last year, with France and the Netherlands following and the US putting strict import laws in place other countries are slow to act. The change in Government in the UK has put back efforts by local NGO’s with their Government seeking advice from Safari Club International, one of the drivers of canned lion hunting. You have to question the moral code of any human who thinks killing a hand reared animal in a fenced area is ethical or even possible to be considered “hunting”. Despite the fees paid for a hunt, the carcass remains the property of the farmer who can further profit by selling to the Asian market for approximately $5000 a carcass.

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“Unless immediate action is taken by all countries to put an end to the ivory and horn trade, we may be the last generation to see elephants and rhinos in the wild,” said Denise Dresner of Action for Elephants UK. “We hope everyone who cares about their survival will join the march on September 24th and demand action from their governments to save them.”

We ask that Australia takes decisive and clear action now, within it’s own jurisdiction, to target the matters at the very heart of this issue: consumer demand and legal domestic markets.  

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Ivory necklace for sale through Leonard Joel Auction House

A domestic ban would close down markets which ultimately provide a means to legally dispose of illegal rhino horn and ivory – an activity that undermines the rule of law, international trade bans and the CITES processes. A publicly announced domestic ban would help to reaffirm ivory and rhino horn as unacceptable commodities.

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Items for sale in South Yarra, Melbourne.

As a collective we ask for action throughout the Oceanic region.  It’s time for courageous and visionary leadership from all corners of the globe, to ‘do their bit’ to stop the slaughter. Too much is being asked of Africa’s wildlife, particularly the elephants, rhino and lion, under the ‘if it pays it stays’ approach – animals have a right to exist, well beyond being viewed as mere commodities.

We commend the Australian Government on their global leadership as demonstrated with the implementation of a ban on the importation of lion trophies and body parts – a visionary and courageous step taken by Minister Greg Hunt. Announced in March 2015, months before the death of Cecil, this ban could well be considered the biggest step for lion conservation.

We cannot bear to be witness to the continued annihilation of these animals and on this day, we mark the CITES CoP17 in Johannesburg and the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions commencing on 24 September 2016, we stand as one, we stand for wildlife.

We are very proud to have guest speakers Lynn Johnson, Breaking the Brand, Fiona Gordon, Gordon Consulting New Zealand (thanks to IFAW) and Director of For the Love of Wildlife, Donalea Patman presenting at the event.

Lynn in Kenya

Dr Lynn Johnson interviewed over 50 people from the Kenyan Maasai, including Maasai warriors to understand what rhinos meant to this group. She also interviewed people who were of Kikuyu, Samburu and Luo decent about what rhino meant to the people of Kenya.

Canned Hunting WARNING: Graphic Content

We are sorry to have to post such graphic content but to create change we have to know our enemies. Please view with caution, the content is very distressing but what drives us to have this cruel industry banned.

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There are fewer than 3,000 lions left in the wild in South Africa, but more than 8,000 in captivity, being bred for the bullet or the arrow. These animals are destined to be trophies, therefore it is imperative that the head to kept in perfect condition. A quick kill by a head shot now becomes a body shot, taking up to a dozen bullets to kill a lion or a slow death by arrow, either way piercing a major organ can never be guaranteed.

Lion farming and poaching are serious threats to wild lion prides for a number of reasons:

  • The ongoing capture of wild lions for the purpose of introducing fresh blood into captive breeding negatively affects the wild population.
  • The canned hunting industry attracts high fee paying clients for the opportunity to kill captured, drugged, confined and humanized animals.
  • The explosive growth of the Asian lion bone trade through poaching.
  • Volunteers inadvertently support the industry by being deceptively conned in the name of conservation. They are led to believe that they are helping orphaned cubs that are being raised to return to the wild… animals that have been humanized can never return to the wild.
  • Volunteers do not work at these reserves for free – the fee is high and it makes this industry very lucrative.
  • Poverty – the local Africans are too easily persuaded by money to poach animals for the lion farming or international trade in parts.

Watch Blood Lions to see the truth behind this horrific and cruel industry.

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Explosive footage and the truth exposed by Derek Gobbett, a safari cameraman accompanying 10 hunters on De Klerk Safaris concession hosted by Stormberg Elangeni Safaris. This is the full story which was featured in the recent BBC story.

https://vimeo.com/182198408?utm_source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=29220

If you want print ready or high resolution files please email us at fortheloveofwildlife@gmail.com

WARNING: Graphic and confronting content.

South Africa’s dirty secret

The CON in conservation

The CON in conservation Part 2

Journeying into nature with deep reverence

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King and Queen.

Sacred Safari – May 2016

We made a conscious choice to work in the world differently, to take courageous leaps of faith and enter into the unknown and then find valid support for our efforts: this is why we chose to offer our first deep nature immersion journey. To share another perspective on entering the natural world, on what our impact as humans has on the silent and magical animal and nature realms.

Our first group was small but we had decided from the outset that regardless of the number of participants it was important to lay the foundation for this work, for these Sacred Safaris.

On our first day we gathered our fellow journeymen in Johannesburg, giving our guests time to recover from their long flights.

Those that were up for it took an afternoon at the Origin Centre at the University of the Witwatersrand which has fascinating exhibitions covering the depth of Africa’s history and Bushman heritage and it’s devastation due to European settlement. There  are beautiful artworks, intriguing artefacts and archaeological finds.

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We set out on our journey beginning at the sacred site of Adam’s Calendar near the tiny town of Kaapsche Hoop in Mpumalanga Province. Older than time itself, this rocky wilderness is protected by herds of wild horses.

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We have a history of visiting this site and it’s not always been as clear energetically as it was when we entered on the dusk of our first day. Beautiful large dolmens and other huge rocks stand like keepers, emitting their own heartbeat, a pulse emitted from the central heart. To enter into this landscape is surreal, the strange rock formations coupled with surrounding pine forests and organic moonscape of rocks.

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Adam’s Calendar is dated anywhere from 35,000 to 72,000 years old and is reminiscent of something like Glastonbury, without the extensive tourism and policing. The rock formations line up with constellations, celestial and seasonal events. Some time back, a group had started illegal excavation on the site and the scars are still visible.  Metal stakes were put deep into the soil between dolmens and around to measure the stars, the moon and the sun’s alignment and the energetics of what lay beneath. It’s common knowledge that when flying over the site in a small aircraft the instrumentation can either drop out or go haywire.

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Our entry into this natural kingdom was guided by a local woman, Mary Ross, who knows the area extremely well and showed us other energetic power points and portals. We had very powerful meditations and openings, which set the magical, mystical tone for our journey.

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None of the wild horses came close that day but the funky little village had quite an array of animals – all very happy to come and say hi and spend time with us.

Boondocks was the next stop with a very beautiful welcoming at the gate by the owner. It’s like entering the underworld. A stunning landscape of wild African bush and mountains with the accommodation right in the centre of surrounding mountains, not far from the Mozambique border.

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A shower with a view!

The outlook is breathtaking and the outdoor shower has the most magnificent view over a vast valley alive with leopard, baboons and buffalo  – an absolute must! The incredible offering by Anne and Stewart, who have lovingly developed this retreat centre, in what they hold on this land is exquisite. The highlight is the labyrinth they built which is an exact version of the one at Chartres.

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Such an incredible honour to be able to walk this labyrinth.

To walk this labyrinth on the land, in the middle of a forest and stream creates such a fine frequency, a direct portal to the inner and outer worlds, held by tree guardians. Both mystical, mythical and magical. One must experience it to be able to truly understand what is offered to the world. We had a difficult time saying goodbye, knowing we had deepened and opened ourselves to the animal kingdom, having full permission to enter.  Stewart’s wonderful stories and heightened intuitive perspectives were valued insights, his stories around the night fire had us all captivated and we found our hearts yearning for more. What they’ve created is remarkable, mostly a sharing of love and a great gift to the world. A universal architect who’s left a stunning and beautiful legacy.

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All the crew with Stewart on the left and Anne on the right.

Entry into the Kruger National Park welcomed us with amazing animal sightings on the bridge before we even entered the Malelane Gate. A multitude of animals greeted us just before we entered the park – crocodiles, hippo, multiple birds – an absolute celebration of life!

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A rare baby grounded hornbill.

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This adult grounded horn bill was with two others and two babies.

Our drive in was purposeful as we wanted to get to our accommodation, the Rhino Post Lodge, in time for the evening game drive – we were all bursting with excitement. Seeing a group of rare Ground Hornbills was such a treat, they were curious and friendly, the young ones coming very close to our vehicles.

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Our first night out we were blessed to see many rhino but being a full moon knew that protection for these animals is always paramount. We pray for their protection and that the senseless and cruel killing stops.

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The drought in Kruger brings many animals to man-made waterholes and watching hippos trying to stuff themselves in to tiny water sources is heartbreaking, they are certainly suffering the most.  We had seen a leopard kill, visible up a tree so our driver was committed to getting a sighting. We had a quick glimpse but scared the leopard with our driver not quite as sensitive and aligned with our intention.

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This guy really loved the toning.

The next morning we where all wide eyed and bushy tailed and headed out layered in warm clothing to meet the cold African winter dawn. Our guide was once again committed to seeing the shy leopard of the night before and got a little frustrated when we asked him to stop the vehicle and allow us time to connect in and calm our intentions. When you head out with a mission to see “something”, or to tick off a list of animals you want to see, you carry with you the energy of the “hunt”. Animals sense this and are long gone before you have a chance of a sighting – they pick up on another “predator” in the field.

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A newborn close to camp.

With our intentions softened, our gratitude activated and hearts open we started again. And what did we see? A rare Black Sable. At first it was indisdinguishable, looking like a man bent over in deep thought but then we saw the enormous black horns. Pan? He had been lying down and when he arose he took our breath away: in the distance he looked like a Centaur, our Pan, a Black Sable! We all knew the significance, and the rarity of such a sighting and were so excited and blessed to see such a magnificent creature.

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Such a rare sighting of this magnificent black sable.

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Hippos having a terrible time during the drought in Kruger.

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Trying to squeeze into whatever water they can find.

 

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A hippo in a dam with water levels very low, terrapins sunning themselves on it’s back.

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And then nature blessed us with it all. A herd of elephants of all ages from babies to matriarchs walked by, surrounded us, on their way to the dam. Hippos, rhino, giraffe, and the list goes on to the place where we stop to watch hippos, looking skinny in diminishing levels of water, terrapins using them to sun themselves. And we look to our left – leopard. Sitting atop a termite mound. Calm, relaxed, stretched out – shimmering. The jewel of the animal kingdom. Such exquisite beauty. Stella shared that they are the Kings of medicine. Ancient, wise, shape-shifters. Their fluid bodies move in sensual caress of the earth, collecting knowledge.

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We had it all, our drives included two golden lions mating just a few metres from our vehicle, with several males on the periphery about to compete with the dominant male. The tiniest owls, the enormous eagles – Crowned and Battler, mighty seers of the wilderness.

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The king and queen, the mating pair.

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On guard as other males close in on his territory.

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This lion moving in to challenge the mating couple.

On a night drive we came across a young hyena looking over the edge of a bridge and on our arrival she walked off. We were out of our vehicle on the bridge, on our guides invitation, all lights turned off looking down on hundreds of fireflies dancing on the river bank when our driver put on his torch and was surprised to see the hyena back on the bridge, strolling closer and closer to check us out. What an extraordinary meeting! No fear from either the three of us left standing or the hyena (did I mention half the group had returned to the vehicle…) just a curious exchange. We heard hyena calls all night – beautiful sounds, the soprano of the bush veld and early before dawn, there was a group very close to camp.

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Stella and I had awoken early and were first to get to the viewing platform to see a very similar hyena (in age and size) in the middle of the river bed, standing observing us before slowly wandering off on the loose sand.

A few days in Kruger was such a blessing, a numinous experience. Entering the animal kingdom with deep respect and reverence, being open hearted, calm and in love with nature really does invite the magical and profound. We left seeing more lions – the King and Queen in loving embrace. A herd of dozens of buffalo sitting in circle on a sandy river bank with elephants surrounding them, trumpeting and dusting themselves, all having to co-exist with the critical amounts of water available.

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We were astonished to see yet another huge herd of elephants in another waterhole having the absolute time of their lives splashing and playing, trumpeting and snorting, bathing, rubbing, looking out for the babies, the youngsters slapping the water with their trunks in complete celebration. The joy in their expression was something stunning to witness knowing that we too felt that celebration in what was shared with us in Kruger.

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The interactions with nature have left us all dramatically changed. You cannot take those experiences as anything other than a blessing. Deeply grateful for nature’s generosity and compassion we continued to attempt to express our deep love for the creatures and each other as our time together strengthened and deepened.

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A herd of buffalo had formed a circle, laying on the sand and elephants walking past to access the water.

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An incredible sighting.

Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world, was our next destination to rest for a day, take it easy and have a nurturing and soft time to ourselves. To catch our breaths and have a gentle weaving back into life outside of the magical field of Kruger.

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Bush buck on the water’s edge.

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Kudu.

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Baby croc only 12 inches long. Apparently he’s going to be moved away.

We spent a morning on the water of the huge dam with the boat completely to ourselves. We stayed quiet and witnessed creatures along the shoreline go about their daily business – bushbuck, kudu, crocodile, hippo, baboons. The true beauty of the canyon seen from the centre, looking up at the amazing rock faces, waterfalls and scenery.

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On our way back to the lodge we stopped at the waterfall for a quick (freezing cold) dip for the brave at heart. This location, part of a UNESCO protected biosphere is where “I’m a Celebrity, Australia” was filmed. To see how they’ve damaged the area, built huts, paths and bridges, dumped piles of river sand sand from another biosphere at the waterfall, a site many consider to be a sacred feminine place shows their absolute lack of regards or sensitivity to the protected area. Locals and tourists who come from all over the world to see this spectacular canyon are locked out for 4-5 months whilst they prep and film. You get a sense of how insensitive big business can be and how money speaks – isn’t it astonishing that this kind of thing can go on in a UNESCO designated biosphere?  I’m sure they justify their use by donating money to local charities and foundations with little understanding of what their impact actually is. When wealthy networks can buy off poorly managed parks boards and buy their way in, promising to leave the site in it’s original condition and doing nothing of the sort when they’ve finished filming has no integrity.

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Icy cold!

The next day we ventured to the tops of the Drakensburg Mountain Range visiting a view site overlooking the Three Rondavals, part of the magnificent massive rock formations. We looked down on the very water way we’d been on the day before where the Blyde River snakes through the canyon. Such a dramatic shift of perspective to be way up high! Ruth knew of the ancient altar on the site,  hidden from most tourists, an initiation site to some highly regarded African mystics. We spent time there meditating and realised that the top of the altar, eroded from years of wind and weather, looked so much like the landscape, mirroring the mountains, gorges and rivers. We ventured into a township for some shopping time for our guests and bought huge bags of avocado, passionfruit and mandarins for R100 (about $10 Aussie).

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Windy and cold on the edge!

Our final and finishing piece was the White Lion Protection Trust. Seeing the Royals was something else. These are two arresting white lionesses – Nebu and Zihra, who looked stunning in the morning light, sitting like sphinxes in the rising sun. Linda Tucker (CEO and founder) shared the genesis and reasons for the twenty year old project, not just the physical but the purpose of their work in many realms – the metaphysical and ecological. We were very grateful to her for joining our drives and sharing her wisdom, taking in the starry night sky and the drives around the dry, thorny bushland of Timbavati, which translates as “the place where the star lions came down”.

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The gorgeous George who’s working at GWLT after being an anti-poaching ranger.

We also witnessed the two tawny lionesses on another piece of White Lion Trust land who were in hunting mode. They are Cleopatra and Tswalu and worked in tandem, hunting kudu. This was an incredible event to watch – seeing them work in stealth, one going around whilst one held her ground and then struck from the opposite side. We didn’t stay to see the end as we didn’t want to disturb their hunt – it’s hard work,  but we passed the kudu as we drove along the road, feeling their heightened awareness, their wide eyed alertness, the adrenalin at being targeted and hunted by an apex predator. The balance and power of natural world.

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A view of the rustic accommodation at White Lion Trust. Lovely to sleep in round rooms.

We were truly blessed to have such wonderful participants who wanted the depth of experience and heightened sensitivity to nature and her creatures. Who willingly and courageously followed our guidance, who trusted us implicitly. To work with Stella Horgan and Ruth Underwood has been a dream, such remarkable women who hold such refined sensitivity but have enormous and courageous hearts, authentic and solid. To journey with them and trust the unfolding of that which we’ve laid out, to have the level of joy, brilliance, heightened intuition and guidance of nature and the exquisite gifts afforded us. We are all very excited to share this work with the world and are already making plans for next year!

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Thank you to the courageous pioneers who walked with us, the dear and loved friends who held us whilst unable to physically join us, to the spirit, elemental and animals worlds who loved us deeply and held us safe.

To offer this work is a dream come true and allows us to continue campaigning for the rights for our non-human friends. To co-exist on this living earth in respect and harmony, to create heaven on earth for all.

Global March for Lions – Melbourne 2016

Gathering at Federation Square we marched to City Square with the fabulous Tracy Bartram chanting “ban canned hunting” “Global March for Lions” and then gathered for speeches. We are very excited to have Jason Wood MP, Bruce Poon (Animal Justice Party), Laurie Levy (Coalition Against Duck Shooters), Dr Lynn Johnson (Breaking the Brand) and Donalea Patman (Founder) as guest speakers.

A fantastic turnout despite it being a cold and dreary day, Tracy Bartram an absolute riot and had everyone in stitches even though the message for lions is a tragic one.

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So grateful for the incredible support and working together we raise awareness and educate the public about the issues of predators being bred for the bullet.

Many thanks Melbourne, you ROCK!

Last year we hosted a massive event at Federation Square to announce the global first with satellite connection to Ian Michler in Sth Africa who appeared on the big screen, Jason Wood MP and Donalea Patman were speakers and supported by Animal Justice Party, Holden and FOUR PAWS Australia.

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Environment Minister Greg Hunt announces the immediate ban on lion trophies and body parts, a global first.

Minister Greg Hunt announced that lion trophies and body parts would be banned from coming into Australia, a visionary and courageous stand against the cruel and barbaric industry of captive breeding and canned hunting. France followed our lead late last year with the US creating such strict import duties that hunters must prove that their hunt has been part of a conservation program approved by regulatory bodies.

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Photography Stephen Powell

This year we still march as the industry still continues to grow, Sth Africa refusing to act on the global outrage, PHASA and Predator Breeders in opposition about aligning with canned lion hunting. Recently the African Lion Working Group made a public statement saying that captive breeding and canned hunting has no conservation value as it doesn’t benefit wild lion populations.

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This year we also support Coalition Against Duck Shooting as their founder, Laurie Levy has been fined and banned from being on the wetlands this hunting season. We support his 30 years of campaigning to stop the brutal slaughter and wounding of Australia’s water birds and many endangered species that are also killed. Authorities prefer to support the less than 0.4% of Victorians who still wish to kill despite the public support for a complete ban.

For further details about the march:

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And we are very excited to host an exclusive screening of the full length cinema quality of Blood Lions at Cinema Nova in Lygon Street immediately following.

Click on the image to go direct to ticketing.

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Blood Lions Melbourne Screening

Local MP in Canned Hunting First

Jason Wood MP, the Federal Member who worked with local resident Donalea Patman and her NFP For the Love of Wildlife to create a GLOBAL FIRST. Australia is the first country to ban the importation of lion trophies and body parts as a direct response to the cruel and barbaric industry of canned hunting – months before the death of Cecil.

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Wood will be speaking at this year’s Global March for Lions – Melbourne with Donalea Patman (For the Love of Wildlife), Bruce Poon (Animal Justice Party), Laurie Levy (Coalition Against Duck Shooting) and Lynn Johnson (Breaking the Brand) MC’d by animal loving celebrity Tracy Bartram.

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Starting at Federation Square at 10am walking to City Square where speeches will take place, followed by an exclusive screening of the explosive movie Blood Lions. This film focuses on the work of investigative journalist and conservationist Ian Michler, exposing the links between the cub petting / lion walking tourist attractions and the horrific industry of lions being bred for the bullet.

Tickets for exclusive screening of Blood Lions

Recently Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH) withdrew from I’m A Celebrity due to the use and exploitation of a 5 week old lion cub that came from a breeding farm. Network Ten and ITV producers continued to ignore conservation advice using leopard cubs in a following episode with Shane Warne and Val Lehman.

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The purpose of these events which are being hosted around the world is to raise awareness and educate the public about the links between cub petting and canned hunting and to show that these immoral high profit focused operations are of no conservation benefit to Africa’s lions. Celebrity vet Dr Chris Brown was duped just like thousands of tourists and volunteers believing the cub Network Ten sourced was an orphan.

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8000 lions in captivity in around 200 farms just so hunters can get a quick, efficient, cost effective, guaranteed kill. These animals have been hand reared and habituated taken off their mothers a few days after birth, forcing the lioness back into estrus – factory farming the “King of the Jungle”.

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Often drugged or baited, some walking up to the vehicle that has the hunter as they are tame. Some/many of these store bought living trophies suffer sickening wounds for minutes or much longer as shot after shot can be taken to finally claim their beloved and “hard” fought trophy. Lions from these farms can never be returned to the wild as they have lost their fear of humans and genetically impaired due to inbreeding. Wild lion populations are targeted and killed, cubs stolen to reinvigorate the breeding stock of captive breeders. This is a high profit, ego driven Industry where money talks and conservation walks!

 

It is estimated that as few as 15,000 to 20,000 lions are left in the wild, less than rhino. France has followed Australia’s ban with other countries including the UK and EU in talks with major conservation groups.