As a critically endangered species, there were only 11 White Lions reported alive in their natural habitat last year. Sometimes affectionately referred to as “the children of the Sun God”, the decline of this species has made them that much more enigmatic. Due to culling practices, trophy hunting and captive breeding practices in the 1970s, the White Lion population has declined dramatically. It was only in 2006 did White Lions began to appear in the wild again, with new births recorded in the Timbavati Region.
The Global White Lion Protection Trust (WLT) is primarily aimed at re-establishing the White Lion into its natural distribution range. In doing so, the WLT takes a holistic approach by endeavouring to protect the whole ecosystem of lions, land and people. The WLT spearheaded a ground-breaking research project in order to identify the genetic marker for these ethereal beasts, and in collaboration with genetic scientists from China, Korea, Namibia, South Africa and the USA, successfully achieved this in 2013.
White Lions are endemic to only one place on earth, and that is the Greater Timbavati region and the Central Kruger Park here in South Africa. Interestingly, the physical environment in this area is what enables the White Lion to be camouflaged in the wild. The region has white sandy riverbeds, and in winter due to the dry climate, the long grasses become a scorched pale shade. Judging by the evidence in photographs, some have said that these animals could be as close as 20 metres away and you wouldn’t know because they are so well camouflaged within their habitat. However, outside of their true original habitat that are much more vulnerable as they are unable to blend into the surrounding environment and its vegetation. These magnificent creatures are apex predators at the top of the food chain, with only man as their biggest threat. They hunt both day and night and have been known to successfully take down large Herbivores like giraffe. Part of their successful hunting strategy is that they hunt in packs and with their collective strength, amazing speed, pinpoint accuracy and unmatched courage are successful in their attempts.