White Lion Tourism Underway Despite Lack of Legal Compliance

The Global White Lion Protection Trust (GWLPT) still has no holding permit for the white lions it imported to an area adjacent the Greater Kruger National Park in March this year. This has not deterred the GWLPT from setting its tourism activities in motion.

A “white lion sacred safari” under the guidance of United Kingdom based animal communicator, Wynter Worsthorne, is already fully booked for November this year and another is planned for April next year. Worsthorne, who was born in South Africa, helps animal owners by “communicating with animals”.

According to her website she is known as an “empath” and “is able to connect with animals through photographs (and physically) and can pick up their physical and emotional state.” Her tour group will spend five days on the farm in the “Greater Timbavati Area” where the GLTP white lions are kept in one hectare bomas as part of their rehabilitation and reintroduction programme into the wild.

 According to Jason Turner, who leads the “carefully monitored scientific long-term  reintroduction of the white lions to their unique endemic range of the Greater Timbavati region”, the lions will be integrated with a tawny lion group to be released into the wild. At this stage, the GWLPT has not yet introduced tawny lions into the project.

He was quoted in the media in June this year, saying at a presentation in White River that the reintroduction protocol follows  scientifically proven boma-bonding and reintroduction techniques. He said the objective is not to captive breed white lion. The GLTP strongly opposes the captive breeding of white lion.

He added that “at every stage of the reintroduction, human intervention will be restricted so that the cubs are not human imprinted. They will begin to develop their hunting techniques naturally in a free-roaming sub-habitat, in play and by practicing on the resident prey base that occurs there.”

When asked earlier this year, Turner could not specify time frames for the various stages of rehabilitation and eventual release of the white lions into the wild. Nor did he expand on the game count (prey basis) that he conducted on the farm.

At this stage the lions are kept in roughly one-hectare bomas on the 300ha sub-habitat area, where they have been since they were moved from Sanbona in the Eastern Cape to the lowveld farm in March this year.

Tucker, in a recent article she wrote for a Hoedspruit newspaper, indicated that the “first phase of the carefully monitored reintroduction protocol has been successfully undertaken.”

The Animaltalk safari group’s £1 330 adventure includes an invitation to “become part of the White Lion monitoring team, joining them at dawn and dusk to work with the lions.”

The itinerary emphasises a spiritual experience that will be provided by meeting Credo Mutwa, the “Lion Priest of Africa”, a ceremonial celebration of the River of Stars at the baobab sacred site of “Tsau” and an animal communication workshop presented by Wynter augmented by an evening with Chief Khosa Kapama at a traditional Shangaan village.

Here the Khosa family, being sangomas, may bring a message from the ancestors to the group. Linda Tucker, founder of the GWLPT will present a workshop on the importance of the white lions and facilitate the activation of the White Lion spirit in the individuals within the group.

The last day will be “spent in contemplation, experiencing the sacred site in our own quiet space.” Tucker recently returned from the the World Wilderness Congress in Alaska where she did a presentation on the plight of the white lions. The Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism did not issue a holding permit for the lions when they were first brought to the lowveld.

The department’s Dr Ramphele has not responded to repeated queries about the permit or the lack of a proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) about the GWLPT project and the eco-tourism ventures.

In terms of the draft national norms and standards for the sustainable use of large predators the “establishment or re-establishment of any large predator will be subject to an EIA and feasibility study by the applicant, which will be reviewed by the provincial conservation authority in whose area of jurisdiction the intended action falls, and which will lead to the development of a formal ecological management plan.”

Tucker has also appealed to the Minister of Environmental Affairs to introduce special legislation that will protect the White Lions as a national asset. “Of vital consequence is the fact that South Africa’s unique white lions are part of this country’s cultural heritage and African renaissance. It is imperative that this cultural and historical value be considered alongside their environmental value.”

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