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LeoLites cycle ride

The boys are now on day two of an amazingly difficult challenge.

180 miles in two days, 18th and 19th July 2014.

They have had punctures, bad falls and blistering heat to contend with on Day One. But they are still going, still cheerful and will achieve this momentous feat for #lions. They crossed the Channel finally at 20.00hrs  yesterday. Tonight they will arrive in their destination in Bruges.

Have a look here at the photographs taken on this epic trip.

 

Please, please, if you can, help us AT LEAST to get them over their modest fundraising target of £300. We are currently at 91%........ Thanks for caring.  SAVING LIONS TOGETHER

 

UPDATE: They have arrived in Bruges! Job well done LEOLITES. Fabulous

 

IT WAS A PRIVILEGE TO CATCH UP WITH THE GUYS AT DOVER DOCKS ON SUNDAY EVENING TO SHAKE THEIR HANDS AND THANK THEM FOR ALL THEY ACHIEVED TO RAISE MONEY FOR LIONS.

THEY ARE HOPING THAT PEOPLE WILL RESPOND TO THE CHALLENGE THEY HAVE JUST COMPLETED BY DONATING TO THE FUND. THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT HIT AT LEAST £500 IF POSSIBLE.

PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN 

 

Back in Dover

 

You can donate here.  

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 15:54

Wildlife as captive entertainment

Saturday 19th July 2014

Lion Tamer

It still goes on

 

We all know that wild animals have been used to entertain us. This entertainment goes back thousands of years to the Roman Circuses where gladiators fought lions, where Christians were Roman circusessupposedly fed to lions, and where lions were allowed to kill other animals in front of an audience.Bones of gladiators with supposed lion bite marks have been found as far north of Africa as York in the UK. 

Lions were kept at the menagerie of the Tower of London for the entertainment of visitors well over 700 years ago. Potentates, sultans, kings kept lions in private collections to impress their visitors. The menagerie of the Tower of London menagerieseven included a polar bear and an elephant. People flocked to such displays of captured animals. Menageries did a brisk business to display such amazingly wonderful species as giraffes and rhinos to open mouthed European crowds in the 1800s and 1900’s. 

And so did the circuses where “animal acts” were invented. Perhaps the “dangerous” animal acts can be traced back to American animal trainer Isaac Van Amburgh who made his spectacular entry into the circus world in the 1830’s. 

While in England, Van Amburgh performed for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1844. So impressed was the Queen that Van Amburghshe commissioned artist Edwin Landseer (sculptor of the lions on Trafalgar Square) to paint a portrait of Van Amburgh and his cats.

Van Amburgh, even in his day, was accused of animal cruelty 

 

So what have we learned? Not very much it would seem. Captive wild animals continue to be exploited for our entertainment.

Even respected organizations like the London Zoo seem to allow hundreds of alcohol-imbibing visitors to gain access to the animals on Friday nights. These nights raise much money for the zoo, but is it OK to have a tiger covered in beer meanwhile?

And now we hear that Siegfried and Roy, Las Vegas animal entertainers, have just started another round of their shows. You might remember that Roy was set upon by a tiger in one of his shows in 2003. Roy was seriously injured and the show was closed, but not for long. Siegfried and the handicapped Roy now want to begin again – with white lions as their star attraction.

These white lions were sourced from captive lion breeders in South Africa. The same ones who supply captive bred lions to the canned lion hunting industry.

White lions are unfortunate animals. Highly inbred to maintain their recessive coat colour they are bred and sold all over the world to zoos, circuses and private owners. Their “mystical” distinction from other lions is promoted by many, and feeds this commerce.

So where do we go from here? Have we graduated from the days of Van Amsburg and the Roman Circuses?

Some say we are making progress. In some countries circuses are no longer allowed wild animal entertainers. But these animals still will entertain in the new Siegfried and Roy revised shows in the USA and entertain Friday night parties at the London Zoo.

Is it a case of confused priorities or just continued exploitation?

Picture credits:

The Nubian Giraffe – Jaques Laurent Agasse, 1827

The Christian Martyr’s Last Prayer – Jean-Leon Gerome, 1883

Isaac Van Amburg – Edwin Landseer, 1830
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Circus_Lion_Tamer.jpg

 

 

If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 17:53

LeoLites Bruges

 

This Friday, the 18th July, Jon, Martin, Guiseppe, Andrew and Grant will be cycling close to 180 miles from London to Bruges to raise money for LionAid.


We are delighted that they are making such a huge effort for lions and I hope you will all help them smash through their fundraising target of £300.


With only two days to go before they begin this great challenge, we don’t have long to get that fundraising total up!


Click here to read all about this challenge and add your donation.

Thanks everyone and GOOD LUCK LeoLites team – this is an awesome way to raise awareness and funding for our lion conservation work. We appreciate it very much and the lions are ROARING their support.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 11:29

A LionAid Online Auction

Tuesday 1st July 2014

Phil Yates lion print

 

For one week only, starting today, we have opened the bidding for a wonderful, framed photographic print (37cm x 32cm) by Phil Yates, the wildlife artist.

This is a photograph of a lion from the Marsh Pride, taken in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

Phil very kindly donated this signed print and had it beautifully framed for us to help raise money for our work to save the remaining fragile lion populations.

So, you can see the bids and place your bid by clicking this link. The highest bid at the close of the auction at midday on the 8th July will win this beautiful picture.

Bidding starts at £1.


*NB there will be P+P to pay of around £3.00 for UK destinations and around £10.00 for non UK

 

If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 12:29

Croydon radio blog

 

 Last Saturday, Pieter and I were delighted to accept an invitation to be guests on the “Eclectic Avenue” Radio Show, hosted by Steve, a DJ on Croydon Internet Radio.

DJ SteveWe were scheduled to be guests during the first hour of his two hour show and even got to pick some of the songs on the show’s playlist. What fun we had, researching lion themed songs, old and new, and discovering some real gems in the process!

At 18.00 we dutifully donned headphones and joined Steve in his studio for the hour of good music and discussions about the plight of the Africa’s last remaining lions.

We covered a range of topics about lions and LionAid and typical of us, we always had more to talk about than time allowed, so when Steve suggested we hang around for the second hour too, we were delighted to accept.

Have a listen in to the podcast of the Show and we look forward to hearing back from you if you would like any more information on any of the topics we covered in the discussion – or even if it is just to tell us what you thought of our music choices! We particularly loved the song we chose to end the show with – it really does say it all…..


Thank you Steve for allowing us the opportunity to talk about lions and our work and for being a great host!
And a big thumbs down to the traffic warden who gave us a parking ticket whilst we were recording the Show.

 Listen in here to the Show: Eclectic LionAid Avenue

 

 

If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you. 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 18:27

Conserving big cats

Conserving big cats

 

On 19 June the New York State Assembly signed bill A.9004-C/S.6903-C (Rosenthal/Avella) into law. Introduced by Assembly Member, Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and initiated by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the ruling prohibits direct contact between members of the public and tigers, lions and other dangerous wild animals owned by licensed dealers and exhibitors.

Only the Governor of the State of New York now needs to sign this and it is done and dusted.

Meanwhile… direct contact between “wild animals” and the public is encouraged in South Africa as we all now know – cub petting, lion walking, wedding ceremonies with a lion in attendance, school visits by lion cubs, happy volunteers bottle feeding lion cubs – a big money earning industry.

Surprisingly, this also occurs in South England. The Wildlife Heritage Foundation allows close contact with their big cats, to the point of allowing model photoshoots – you can see the video here. All for money of course. Meanwhile, the WHF advertises itself as

” recognised and respected as being the best breeding centre for endangered big cats in the world” and that they will achieve this mission by “Operating a centre of excellence … dedicated to the captive breeding of endangered big cats within the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP) with the eventual aim of providing animals for scientifically based re-introduction projects.”

Right. No zoo-raised large cat is EVER going to be released in the wild.

And such close encounters also occur in South Australia. Featured on no less than a three-part series on BBC and described here, tiger cubs were taken away from their mother at a few days old and raised in the keeper’s home. This, according to the keeper, was necessary to provide the cubs a rich environment. What he was actually meaning was an environment to get these tigers get accustomed to humans so as to be better used for close encounters with paying zoo visitors. You can see such pictures of the Platinum Zoo Tour here.

I’m sure there are many more examples in many other nations.

So good on you New York. Let’s hope the message spreads and other nations pay attention. Zoos should be conservation facilities, not petting farms.

Picture credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/266979084130957756/

 

 

If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you. 

 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:02

The new LionAid leaflet and poster!

Friday 27th June 2014

Leaflet

 

This is the new LionAid information leaflet. If you drop us an email on info@lionaid.org,  we would be delighted to post some out to you.

 We also have a poster, designed for us by a wonderful artist called Alun Hartley.

We can supply these posters at a cost of £2 each, unless we can find a printer willing to print FOC for us!

Poster main 

 

 

 

If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 16:24

Okavango Delta


Newest on the list, already controversial?

 

Recently, UNESCO announced that the Okavango Delta would become the 1,000th World Heritage Site. They also announced that the Selous in Tanzania, an existing World Heritage Site, was to be placed on their equivalent of their critically endangered list.

There was much appreciation about the Okavango and dismay about the Selous. Let’s talk about the Okavango first.

The Okavango is an amazing area, one of the few inland deltas of the world. A river that originates from the mountains of Angola flows through the Caprivi Strip of Namibia and then hits the northern extension of the Kalahari Desert. The river branches out into a vast delta supporting a huge amount of wildlife – and then slowly disappears into the thirsty sands. I was very privileged to work there for over ten years.

However, the delta is not well protected. The Moremi Game Reserve only covers a small percentage. And recently, the Botswana government signed an agreement with Namibia to allow a hydroelectric scheme on the Okavango river. The delta itself is surrounded by veterinary cordon fences (badly maintained) to keep cattle from contracting foot-and-mouth disease from resident buffalos. The Okavango delta is poorly defined as to its extent.

Added to this, the Batawana tribe that owns the Moremi Game Reserve is contesting the rights of the Botswana government to make any decisions on their behalf. A court case is looming – “Batawana on Monday resolved to go the legal route in their efforts to stop government, through the land board and the Office of the President, from dispossessing the tribe of one of its prized asset – Moremi Game Reserve” according to the Ngami Times newspaper.

Now on to the Selous. UNESCO has expressed great concerns – “rampant poaching has caused a dramatic decline in the wildlife populations, especially elephants and rhino, whose numbers have dropped by almost 90 percent since 1982, when the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List”.

The Selous, despite being a world heritage site, is now 80% divided into various hunting concessions. The hunting operators clearly did not prevent such massive poaching. In addition, the Tanzania government is going ahead with plans to carve away some of the southern part of the Selous to permit uranium mining, an activity that could pollute soils and rivers for very many decades.

So what, actually, is the value of being designated as a world heritage site? Doubtless in the case of the Okavango delta it was based on good intentions – but it should have involved far better involvement of the people to whom the land belongs. Doubtless the Selous was included because of the immense theoretical value of the area to conservation. Allowing commercial exploitation of wildlife in a world heritage site might actually be in concordance with UNESCO’s sustainable utilization guidelines, but abuse should not be tolerated.

Unless UNESCO world heritage sites receive a better joint management system via the UN, new designations and old designations alike could be not much more worth than the paper the signatures are printed on?

Picture credit: http://rovosair.co.za/the-okavango-delta/

 

 

  If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you. 

 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:58

Eclectic Lion Aid Avenue

Monday 23rd June 2014

Croydon radio blog

LionAid are delighted to be invited onto Croydon Radio’s “Eclectic Avenue” Show with DJ Steve, this Saturday, the 28th June 2014, between 18.00 and 19.00.


Chris and Pieter will be in the studio to talk about their work with lions and why it has never been more important to support lion conservation.
With only an estimated 15,000 lions left in the wild, and only five viable populations left in Africa, lions are truly on the brink of extinction. 

Lion with Dad

 

Amongst other things, Chris and Pieter will talk about the “LionAid Rocks” fundraising concert in North London this coming Sunday afternoon and they will discuss their current project in Kenya, and how you can help.


Do tune in to hear Chris and Pieter talk about their work and hear some of their chosen music choices. You can bet that lions feature in some of the chosen playlist !!!

 

 

 

If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 15:21

David Scholey


Further opportunities for people like Sir David Scholey to hunt Zambian lions?

 

According to hunting operator Andrew Baldry, there was a message on Zambian national radio on Monday that trophy hunting will be reinstated. There does not seem to be confirmation in the Zambian national press.

You will remember that former Minister of Tourism and Arts, Sylvia Masebo, banned all hunting in January 2013. Her concerns were that hunting concession tenders were “irregularly” awarded and that Zambia’s wildlife was disappearing. She sacked the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) Director General and reconstituted the ZAWA board.

Sylvia subsequently became embroiled in a court tribunal with political opponents for “exceeding her authority”. She won the court case, but was dismissed by President Sata for saying that she had his approval to act on a diversity of issues like getting rid of the ZAWA board.

No sooner had new Minister Jean Kapata been instated than she sacked Sylvia’s ZAWA board and the recently appointed Director General. Meanwhile ZAWA remains penniless and requires government bailouts to pay basic expenses.

ZAWA’s income was hugely dependent on leases of hunting concessions and trophy fees. Despite Zambia being a beautiful country with magnificent national parks, development of their photographic tourism industry has been very slow. That is to be regretted, and could have diversified ZAWA’s income base away from just trophy hunting.

Mr Baldry posted on a hunting forum that he was delighted by the radio announcement and was looking forward to resuming lion hunting. When LionAid met with former Minister Masebo in June 2013, she said any decision on the possibility of resurrecting lion hunting would be scientifically guided and informed by a survey of remaining lion populations. Sylvia was concerned as she had visited a diversity of national parks in her official capacity but had yet to see a lion.

ZAWA had been tossing numbers around like 4,000 lions in the country. When LionAid met with the ZAWA board in 2013 we questioned such estimates. We were told that Zambia had not yet adopted specific lion conservation policies called for by CITES and the IUCN. A diversity of NGOs and lion researchers are supposed to be involved in lion population surveys, but we have yet to see any results. Meanwhile, LionAid has cautioned that there might not even be 400 lions remaining in Zambia.

Mr Baldry states on the forum :

“Our Wildlife Department is shooting them [lions] on a regular basis... They are considered vermin and to be shot on sight.”

Other hunters’ contributions on the forum can be summed up by someone posting under the name “leopards valley safaris” who said “Great news Andrew! That's going to be a great victory for hunting conservation!”

We today made a series of telephone calls to very well-placed individuals in Zambia who meet regularly with the new Minister on these sorts of issues. They denied there was any announcement that hunting would resume. They assured us that Minister Kapata was carefully listening to all Zambians – where a strong grassroots conservation movement is gaining huge traction. Our Zambian sources also said that ZAWA had been engaged in only two human/lion conflict incidents this year, and that both lions were translocated. There is no irresponsible shooting of lions.

One of our sources even went so far as to say “the hunters are lying”.

At the end of the day we hope that the new board at ZAWA (due to be announced next week) will make good decisions with regard to the responsible conservation of Zambia’s wildlife heritage. And that Zambia’s Tourism Board will actively promote ecotourism visits to their stunning country.

Picture credit: http://bit.ly/1rf0vm6

 

 

If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 12:36