Kevin Richardson is a South African animal behaviorist who has conducted extensive research on native animals of Africa. He has been acknowledged into a pack of spotted hyenas and pride of lions. He works with hyenas and big cats such as cheetahs and leopards , and he specializes with lions. He runs the Kingdom of the White Lion facility in the Lion Park in Gauteng Province, South Africa. Known around the world as the “Lion Whisperer”, Richardson is also an author and film producer.
Richardson has worked with big cats and relies on intuition rather than static rules
He has slept next to, fed, and lived with lions. Along with lions, he has worked with cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas. He prefers lions to any other big cat. His relationship with the animals, however, has not been an instant one. He has known most of the lions he works with since they were cubs.He still continues his bond with Tau and Napoleon, the lion brothers who were his introduction to big cats.
His unique relationship with the genus Panthera has dispelled many myths concerning the care of lions. Richardson demonstrates that lions and animals in general, have personalities, feelings, and are social creatures. His interaction with them shows that, with mutual respect, many species can coexist together. That does not mean there are no dangers; Richardson, throughout his career, has had many close encounters.
Richardson quickly learned about the dangers of lion keeping when a four-year-old male held him down and bit him; the lion held on at first, before letting go and walking away.
From then on, Richardson has used his intuition and stays away if something feels wrong. In another incident, the lions were in a good mood. Two 400-pound (180 kilogram) lions threw Richardson to the ground and another female jumped on him. He emerged with his face red. As he left, one lion smacked his shoulder with a paw. Richardson has been clawed and bitten often. It is the nature of lions to scratch each other and they regard Richardson no differently. Richardson is not dissuaded by these dangers.
In an interview, he mentions, “Obviously one realizes the danger when working with animals of this caliber, I’ve weighed the pros and I’ve weighed the cons, and the pros far outweigh the cons.” He warns about following in his footsteps, however. All the pictures of his adventures do not portray his years of experience and bonding. “People like to take things out of context. They don’t know the relationship I have with this lion.” As a rule, Richardson only interacts with lions he has been with since their birth.
The population of lions has dropped from about 350,000 to an estimated 25,000 during a fifteen-year-span
Richardson hopes the media attention of his movies will raise public awareness and educate them on the need to protect and conserve Africa’s animals
Lion hunts in South Africa garner more than 90 million dollars (£60 million) a year according to the Professional Hunters Association
Between September 2006-September 2007, 16,394 foreign hunters killed 46,000+ animals
Trophy hunting is worth $91.2 million a year and foreign tourist sometimes pay up to $40,000 to shoot a lion
White Lion hopes to give people second thoughts about participating in these events
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