Founder of For the Love of Wildlife, Donalea Patman, has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for services to animal welfare.
Just 18 months later the former Environment Minister Greg Hunt made the decision for Australia to become the first country to ban the importation of lion trophies and body parts.
Reflecting on her campaign to ensure Australia plays its part in the protection of one of the world’s most iconic species, Donalea recalls meeting Pippa Hankinson at an event in December 2012, Producer of Blood Lions, a documentary exposing the canned hunting industry.
“We happened to catch the same flight out and on that flight, we both pledged to do more for lions.
“Pippa went on to make Blood Lions and I started reaching out to people to see what role Australia could play,” Donalea said.
Leading up to a Federal election Donalea started writing to the candidates about the plight of Africa’s lions.
“I had approached Government to act on behalf of our youth who were being duped into participating in the canned hunting industry.
“They thought they were raising orphaned cubs as part of a conservation effort, but little did they know they were unwittingly raising cubs that are bred for the bullet,” Donalea said.
She then received a phone call from MP Jason Wood who she described as being shocked at the statistics and appalled at the canned hunting industry.
“He (Jason) said if he was elected he would do something to help.
“Jason championed the work, resulting in tripartisan support to get the changes necessary in enacting a ban on the importation of lion trophies and body parts,” Donalea said.
In recognition of her prestigious award, Donalea reflects on the support and mentoring she has received throughout her journey to date, particularly from Ian Michler, the Specialist Consultant and lead role in the Blood Lions documentary.
“He trusted me from the very beginning. Ian was integral to the process, supplying scientific evidence, industry information and relevant reports.
“He also introduced me to key stakeholders and willingly travelled to Australia to meet with Jason Wood and Minister Greg Hunt,” Donalea said.
At the Global March for Lions in March 2015, Donalea hosted an event at Federation Square, Melbourne, to announce the Australian ban.
“We had a massive screen linked to Ian in South Africa to announce the ban.
“It was one of the proudest days of my life to see a man who’s been fighting to stop this industry for around 20 years wipe tears away on the announcement,” she said.
When asked what advice she has for others who want to make a difference for wildlife, Donalea was more than happy to share some words of wisdom.
“I truly believe that if you want to make a change in the world you must be courageous to take a leap of faith. With commitment and determination, we all have the capacity to make a positive impact,” she said.
“I come from a design background and yet somehow, through my love of wildlife and the power of not being able to stay silent about an industry that is so abhorrent, I found a way to do something.
“I’m deeply grateful to Pippa and Ian, and honoured to be in Jason Wood’s electorate,” Donalea said.
Although lions remain her passion, Donalea is now focusing her expertise to impact the plight facing elephants and rhinos. She is leading the #NoDomesticTrade Australia project to have the Australian Government implement a domestic trade ban on the sale of ivory and rhino horn within the country.
Order of Australia
On Australia Day 2017 the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Donalea was announced as recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division within the Australian honours system for service to animal welfare.
The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established by Letters Patent on 14 February 1975 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the advice of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Appointments to the Order of Australia is the pre-eminent means by which Australia confer recognition for outstanding achievement or meritorious service of its citizens. Membership to the society of honour is by merit, independently assessed and free of political interference.
The Queen is the Sovereign Head of the Order of Australia and the Governor General is the Principal Knight and as Chancellor is charged with the administration of the Order.