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South Africa's 'Lion Whisperer' gets up close with big cats

WOW...... Is this for real?

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Unread post Tue May 30, 2017 2:44 am

The male lion brushes through the tall grass and strides into a clearing in a South African wildlife sanctuary. A man beckons the big cat with purring sounds. The lion, Bayetsi, responds with a gentle growl and caresses Kevin Richardson, popularly known as "the Lion Whisperer," with its mane.

Richardson hopes his hands-on stunts with lions will highlight the plight of the African predator, whose numbers have dwindled. It also thrusts him into a sensitive debate about human interaction with lions; some conservationists say Richardson's message is sound and sincere, but note the limits of what he can do to address big-picture problems facing the vulnerable species.

The number of lions in the wild in Africa has dropped by more than 40 percent to about 20,000 in the past two decades, according to some estimates.

Made for viral viewing on social media, the spectacle of Richardson lounging and cavorting with lions as though they were house pets might resemble a circus act in the African bush. But he uses the attention to condemn the South African industry in which customers kill captive-bred lions in relatively confined areas.

He and other critics describe that practice as "canned hunting" and also condemn the tourist draw of lion cub petting in special enclosures, saying those same animals would not be able to survive in the wild and often get cycled into the "trophy" industry to be shot for a price.

"Today's lion cub becomes tomorrow's trophy and the unsuspecting tourists have blood on their hands," said Richardson, who once worked at a tourist park that offered lion cub-petting. The tourists, he said, "have been hoodwinked into believing that their contribution of funds is going into lion conservation."

One South African operation, the Lion and Safari Park, said it stopped lion cub petting but had to resume it because of a "dramatic and unexpected" drop in visitors and tour operators who sought out cub petting elsewhere. It said it keeps its lions until they die of natural causes or donates them to "reputable" zoos and parks, and does not sell its lions to hunters.

Today, 42-year-old Richardson, who is married and has two children, manages a wildlife area with 31 lions within the Dinokeng reserve north of South Africa's capital, Pretoria. Many of the lions, which were captive-bred and cannot be released into the wild, were rescued from being transferred to operations that would let customers shoot them, he said.

Richardson said he does not breed lions and that those on his 1,300-hectare (3,200-acre) property feed on donated carcasses of cattle and antelope.

"I have been accepted as part of the pride," said Richardson, scratching the lion Bayetsi's chin. "But I have to be very careful. They are large animals and are very good at telling you how they feel."



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Unread post Tue May 30, 2017 2:45 am

The Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary's mission is to provide a self-sustaining African carnivore sanctuary for the purposes of wild species preservation through education, awareness and funding, especially pertaining to the rapid decline of large carnivores in Africa due to habitat loss, human-predator conflict, unscrupulous hunting, disease and their illegal trade.

To raise awareness, Kevin has now set up his YouTube Channel 'LionWhispererTV'. The channel is all about raising awareness about not only the declining numbers of lions, but also how this rapid decrease is happening. By watching these videos, you are directly contributing to our scheme of land acquisition.

Kevin captures the majority of his footage on GoPro cameras, allowing the viewer to get as close as possible to the lions.

By doing this, Kevin hopes to give people an insight into the lives of these beautiful creatures and to let them see just what they can do to help. You can nearly touch them.


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Unread post Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:03 pm

Thats kind of awesome...though the pic in my head of some old man lounging with some lions is awfully adorable.

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Unread post Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:39 am

sooooo coooool!
definitely worth taking the time to read- excellent post! thank you
Learn from the past
Live in the present
Plan for the future

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Unread post Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:34 am

I am also amazed by Kevin Richardson because he was able to communicate and get the trust of the lions and other wild animals.

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