Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Lion appeal
Photo George Logan
Speared, poisoned, snared and shot
Photo Bill Travers
I fell in love making 'Born Free'
Photo George Logan
Africa without lions? Unimaginable
Caught by the neck in a wire snare
Photo J Elegerbert
We must stop these tragic killings
Shot for grotesque 'trophies'
Stop the suffering now

Speared, poisoned, snared and shot. It is happening today. Lions are being ruthlessly destroyed in Africa. The suffering is immense. The pain unimaginable.

But it’s not just the torment and distress of individual animals. This is an emergency, a major conservation crisis. Tens of thousands of lions are being killed. An unbelievable 50% lost since 1990. A terrifying decline. Today as few as 32,000 lions cling to survival, and these animals are under terrible pressure.

Africa without lions? Extinction a real possibility? I can scarcely believe what I’m writing. But the species is on the brink of destruction. Could this be the lion’s last roar?

We can’t let this happen. The African lion is the symbol of a great continent and its vast savannah grasslands. And the lion and the Born Free Foundation are inextricably linked.

We feature Elsa the lioness on our charity’s logo. The true story of her journey to freedom inspires everything we do to help animals in need. We must take major action. We must save Africa’s lions.

Nearly 50 years ago my husband Bill and I flew to Kenya to make the film ‘Born Free’. Based on Joy Adamson’s best-selling book, the true story of Elsa would be enjoyed by millions of people worldwide and inspire a generation. Filming in Kenya had a tremendous impact on us. We learned to love Africa and appreciate its wildlife. We began to understand how every animal is individual. And we fell in love with lions – intelligent, majestic, remarkable creatures – and realised they should be protected.

In 1984, inspired by our experiences in Africa, we began Zoo Check with our son Will, the charity which has evolved into the Born Free Foundation. Nearly 30 years on, with your support, we have become a global force for wildlife.

Which is why today we must take action to save the ‘King of the Animals’. The situation is complex. The lions’ habitat is shrinking, their hunting grounds lost to agriculture. Numbers of their natural prey species – antelope and zebra – are dwindling. Hungry lions are forced to look elsewhere for food. They are increasingly killing livestock – cattle, goats and sheep. As you can imagine, farmers desperate to protect their flocks can kill lions in retaliation. They use spears and cheap deadly poisons, as well as wire snares and steel traps.

And that’s not all. Unbelievably, despite our best efforts, in some countries it is still legal to shoot lions for ‘sport’. Hunters pay huge sums to kill a wild lion. But this isn’t just morally abhorrent and utterly repugnant. At least 600, usually male wild lions in their prime, are shot in cold blood ‘for fun’ each year, their body parts exported as grotesque ‘trophies’. Hunting is a serious threat to the future of Africa’s lions.

Meanwhile, countless lions are held captive in tiny cages in atrocious conditions. Yet the lion, of all wild creatures, embodies the spirit of freedom. The enclosed report tells you more. But please be warned, it contains some dreadful, distressing images.

There is so much we have to do. We need to protect wild lions. We need to resolve conflict with local people. We need to stop the horror of trophy hunting. This report explains how, with your help, Born Free will take action to save the African lion.

It’s a simple choice. Either we protect lions and we keep them, or we do nothing and we lose them. I know where I stand. Please help us build a future for Africa’s lions. We can’t stand by while the symbol of Born Free is destroyed.

Thank you.

Virginia McKenna
Founder & Trustee
Born Free Foundation
ITV's British Animal Honours
Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

PS If you feel as I do about lions please make a donation today. Thank you.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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