Our ground-breaking community-based conservation organisation places education at the centre of its efforts to protect biodiversity and cultural diversity in our important wildlife region, one of the last lion ranges on the planet.
We are a relatively small, tightly-run organisation which achieves much on a limited budget, with a long-standing commitment to ensure the flourishing of the endangered White Lions in their endemic habitat, and all that they represent as a critically important living heritage for humanity, nationally and internationally.
Following Linda Tucker’s primary research on the White Lions, dating back to 1991, She began focusing on developing an eco-educational program designed to achieve harmonious coexistence between Lions, Land and People in one of the world’s primary biodiversity destinations.
The rural communities neighbouring the White Lions’ endemic lands was classified one of South Africa’s “poverty nodes”, with a high orphan rate.
Although the K2C Biosphere region is an international tourism hotspot, less than 3% of this foreign income was reaching the local communities. Our strategy to ensure a cultural and socio-economic revival in community stakeholders, has included re-directing eco-tourism to cultural events in celebration of the White Lions; related job creation; art and craft development; and other opportunities which support the fabric of wholesome traditional living, known as Ubuntu.
The luminous White Lions, as an ecological and cultural symbol of unification and good governance, provide an aspirant symbol in support of our commitment to achieve unity in people and unification of wildlands.
The White Lions are a sacred heritage to two local cultural groupings, the Sepedi and the Tsonga peoples, while being honoured by many other tribal groups in Africa, including the first nation of First Nations – the Khoisan/Bushmen peoples. The White Lions are also recognised as a sacred heritage by Indigenous wisdom keepers from all continents. We appreciate that this reverential honouring of a Sacred Animal provides the ideal opportunity to create unity across racial divides.
Unification is an urgent imperative to render a more peaceful environment for all planetary inhabitants, not only humans. In the White Lion project, we recognise that without revitalising true leadership principles in human nature, Mother Nature stands little chance of flourishing.
On this basis, we have established seven eco-educational centres in our neighbouring rural communities, in the under-served region surrounding the wildlife reserves. We call these lively educational hubs ‘StarLion Centres’, after the inspirational ancient myth that holds that the White Lions came from the Stars. After commencing in 2004, by 2007 three of our StarLion Centres went on to present to Nelson Mandela – and the eco-educational program has been growing in numbers and confidence ever since.
To begin with, we built infrastructure and class-rooms and ablution facilities, while also setting up nurseries and food gardens that serve as nutritional centres. But our greatest pride and joy is the curriculum itself, based on the 13 Laws of LionHearted Leadership™. It is now used from pre-school to Tertiary Academy level, educating hearts and minds in fundamental leadership principles inspired by Nature’s primary laws, enabling evolving leaders from all walks of life to become powerful agents of change for this planet. Several of the participants who were once children in the program, now play an important role in our organisation.
Pivotal to our strategy for wide-ranging positive impact are the scholarships we offer to individuals from challenging backgrounds, with leadership potential. Many scholarship students, who have graduated from our Academy for LionHearted Leadership™, go on to become “StarLion” champions and mentors in their community, with continued association with the Global White Lion Protection Trust, and its primary goals.
Indexes and indicators of the success of this eco-educational program include high attendance, literacy and excellence in public speaking and performing arts, as well as environmental sciences. As it achieves greater community building and cohesion, one of the greatest achievements is the growing success of the anti-poaching advocacy, which has seen our local community start to close ranks against poaching infiltrators.
Our StarLion eco-educational program is an essential part of our greater vision, which aims to achieve ‘revival beyond mere survival’: restoring health and pride to the human world, and abundance to the natural kingdom, by creating wildlife champions committed to celebrating the White Lions as a heritage.
Wish list for StarLion Eco-Educational Program