Our Mission

Close up of White Lioness, Marah, looking directly into camera

Our mission is to ensure the flourishing of the White Lions and their natural ecosystem within UNESCO’s Kruger-to-Canyons Biosphere, and as a Global Heritage of great cultural and conservation importance.

Through our sensitive scientific reintroduction programmes and inspired cultural initiatives, we are restoring the White Lions to their rightful place, alive and flourishing within the Heartlands of their Sacred Natural Site and within the hearts of humanity.

This mission, as evidenced in our multi-level projects, creates a leadership model of harmonious coexistence and mutual benefits for Lions, Land and People.

We achieve this leadership model of harmonious coexistence by:

  • applying cutting-edge science in support of ancient Indigenous knowledge.
  • protecting the White Lions as the capstone species, whose ecological apex position restores all trophic levels within the biodiversity of their ancestral territories.
  • uplifting human value systems while restoring ecosystems.
  • upholding an ecocentric rather than egocentric relationship with Nature – recognising Earth comes first.

The implementation of this strategy forms the very basis of the necessary paradigm shift in restoring right-relationship with Nature. Inspired by White Lions as the embodiment of good governance, Linda Tucker has developed a training programme, which applies the Laws of the ecosystem to our human systems, thereby re-establishing the Template for healthy living. This inspirational training is called LionHearted Leadership™.

Achievements

Through decades of service-based leadership in support of Lions, Land and People in one of the most important UNESCO Biosphere regions on the planet, and one of the last viable lion ranges on Earth, the Global White Lion Protection Trust has lived up to its name against great odds, establishing the White Lions as the pre-eminent apex animal within its ancestral lands of South Africa, and an inspirational living heritage around the globe.

Conservation

White Lioness lying together with her two cubs

To ensure the White Lions’ survival, our White Lion Protection Plan™ has managed to attain eight separate bloodlines of the highest genetic integrity, having pioneered the reintroduction of these genetic rarities back to their endemic natural kingdom. This strategy extends to strengthening the genetic pool for Panthera leo, in general, as the lions of the K2C Biosphere are under serious risk of a population crash. Despite ongoing forced removals from their natural system, White Lions continue to recur here – a testimony of their resilience and conservation value.

Science

To ensure the success of White Lion conservation in the region of their origins, Jason A. Turner’s scientific research has included two decades of research of White Lion predation in their endemic habitat, speaking at global environmental conferences and drafting of scientific papers. In our initiatives, modern scientific methods work in respectful collaboration with ancient knowledge systems, in service of Nature. This way, leading-edge science becomes reconcilable with the ‘sacred science’ associated with Indigenous cultural beliefs honouring the White Lions as a Sacred Animal.

Genetic Discovery

To identify the unique traits that have led to the White Lions’ reoccurrence in this specific region, the Global White Lion Protection Trust initiated the successful collaborative efforts in DNA research with geneticists from seven different inter-continental countries, comparing White Lions with Snow Leopards, Tigers, and the “Spirit Bear” of British Columbia. In 2013, this collaboration achieved the watershed discovery of the White Lion ‘genetic marker’. The next step in the White Lion Protection Plan™ is to identify the frequency of occurrence of this unique gene in the K2C Biosphere, and thereby have lions in this critical ecosystem protected by national and international law, including CITES and the IUCN Red Data Book.

Land

To ensure the protection of the White Lions’ ancestral territories, we have raised millions of Dollars to purchase large tracks of wilderness land in the epicentre of the White Lions’ natural endemic habitat, and more strategic heritage land identified, with the aim of protecting the primary river corridor supplying the life-support system to the entire ecosystem.

Heritage

To ensure that the White Lions, as well as their ancestral lands, are protected as a living heritage, we have pursued all available governmental and procedural processes. The Global White Lion Protection Trust is pursuing “Protected Area” status for Tsau, White Lion Heartlands as a Sacred Natural Site, in perpetuity. Today, the White Lion Heartlands, which Indigenous record keepers recognised as a Sacred Site many hundreds of years before proclamation of the Kruger Natural Park in 1926, is once again granted Sacred Natural Site status, the first to be officially declared under the ASSEGAIA Declaration (2019).

Culture

To preserve and reignite the cultural knowledge about these legendary animals, Linda Tucker’s cross-cultural initiatives have included the record keeping and documentation of Indigenous oral knowledge. The importance of the White Lions as a sacred heritage has been recognised through Linda Tucker’s efforts cross-culturally and is supported by Indigenous leaders from around the globe. Linda Tucker’s publication of definitive works on the White Lions: Mystery of the White Lions (2001) and Saving the White Lions (2013) is based on more than 2 decades of collaborative research with Indigenous elders.

Leadership

To activate and nurture LionHearted Leadership™ both locally and globally, Linda Tucker has launched a number of successful eco-educational initiatives: firstly, the StarLion Eco-Cubs programme (since 2004), which presented to Nelson Mandela in 2007 and now supports 7 StarLion Centres, and secondly, Academy for LionHearted Leadership™ (since 2012), attended by local community members and students from around the globe. LionHearted Leadership™ is the central focus of Linda Tucker’s international programme.

Eco-Education

To benefit the local communities of the region the Global White Lion Protection Trust started by building infrastructure for its StarLion Centres: classrooms and ablution facilities, while also setting up nurseries and food gardens that serve as nutritional hubs. However, Linda Tucker’s greatest contribution may be seen in the development of a uniquely inspiring eco-educational programme and curriculum, based on the 13 Laws of LionHearted Leadership™, using leadership lessons exemplified by the White Lions and Nature’s laws to inspire human nature in restoring right-relationship with our planet. The indicators of the success of this eco-educational program include high attendance, increased literacy and confidence in public speaking and performing arts, and increased interest in environmental sciences, all of which are indicative of individual confidence-building as well as community-building.

Legislation

To achieve urgent legislative protection for the White Lions as a global heritage, our ongoing campaigns have included engagement in legislative processes at local, national and international levels, with submissions of legislative documents, 4 presentations to South African Parliament (2007, 2008, 2018, 2019) and 2 addresses at British Parliament (2013, 2019).

Awareness

To raise awareness about the White Lions and the crisis surrounding Panthera leo in general, our ongoing efforts include many international awareness campaigns, with Jason A. Turner and Linda Tucker invited as guest speakers to present at more 25 than world congresses on conservation strategy and related issues over the past 2 decades.

Global Indigenous Support

To call upon governments and all appropriate bodies to protect White Lions and other ‘Climate Indicator Species,’ Linda Tucker was joined by key Indigenous leaders and climate activists, supported by delegates from 54 countries, who signed Resolution 33 at World Wilderness Congress (Mexico 2009) and Bioneers (USA 2018). The ASSEGAIA Alliance, which included key Indigenous representation has identified the White Lion Heartlands as one of the world’s most important Sacred Natural Sites. Read the ASSEGAIA Declaration.

Public Support

To ensure public participation in our united efforts for establishing the White Lions as a global heritage, our awareness-raising initiatives include co-operative management with many other international conservation and animal welfare organisations. In 2014, our NGO helped mobilise the Global March for Lions, which galvanised 62 cities around the world, and presented nearly 1.5 Million signatures calling for an end to the captive lion killing industry by AVAAZ to South African Parliament.

Socio-Economic

To ensure a cultural and socio-economic revival in community stakeholders, our strategy has included directing eco-cultural tourism in support of the local living economy; creating jobs; developing art & craft and performing arts; and other opportunities in support the fabric of traditional living, known as Ubuntu. The Global White Lion Protection Trust has initiated and developed an eco-cultural route, with activation points known as ‘StarLion Centres’ on a Lion Starmap, and is in the founding stages of developing a StarLion Heritage Centre in a community-based partnership with local and international communities.

Media

To correct wide-spread misinformation and ensure the message of the White Lions’ cultural and conservation importance reaches global audiences, our initiatives have generated international media attention, with coverage in over 350 magazine and newspaper articles (many cover stories); with more than 40 interviews with Linda Tucker and Jason A. Turner including Forbes and BBC; Reuters and CBS News; 25 TV documentaries; as well as full-length broadcasts on National Geographic (Return of the White Lion documentary), Animal Planet, 60 Minutes, 50/50, BBC, CBS and full-length Japanese documentaries on NHK scientific channel.

Collaboration

To conserve and protect these rare and iconic animals as a global heritage of inestimable conservation and cultural value, our collaborative approach includes constant engagement with the South African government, local and international communities, traditional authorities, corporate entities, scientific bodies as well as individual benefactors, always welcoming close partnerships with other powerful NGOs, both local and international, including the generous donor support of NoVo Foundation, founded by the Peter and Jennifer Buffet.

Accountability

To ensure good governance and accountability, our funding is underwritten by wide-ranging incremental support from national and international donors, and our books are audited by Deloitte & Touche.

CRITICAL MILESTONES & TIMELINES

Lions

1991

10 Nov 1991, last White Lion cub born in Timbavati for a period of nearly 2 decades, While Lion trophy hunting in the region continues to remove possible gene bearers from their endemic territories.

2000

22 August 2000, dominant male lion Ingwavuma is trophy hunted in Timbavati, considered by African elders to be the last lion bearing the White Lion lineage. But his genetic code lives on in the prides of the region.

2000

25 December 2000, Marah born in Bethlehem, Free State in one of South Africa's first cuddle-to-kill facilities.

2001

Publication of Linda Tucker's book, Mystery of the White Lions (EarthYear) after a decade of prior research with Indigenous elders and undercover investigations into the crisis surrounding the White Lions.

2002

Global White Lion Protection Trust formally registered as a Non-Profit and Public Benefit Organisation.

2002

Dramatic rescue of founder lioness, Queen Marah, from the cuddle-to-kill operation in Bethlehem in a police raid.

2004 - 2007

Attainment of three separate bloodlines of White Lions of the highest genetic pedigree.

2006

Reintroduction of Queen Marah and her cubs into their endemic Heartlands after nearly two decades of technical extinction in the wild.

2006

Ingwavuma’s White Lion lineage reoccurs in the prides of the Timbavati region, simultaneously.

2007

Aslan, code-named “Mandla”, is rescued from the death camp in Bethlehem in an undercover operation, his direct bloodline originating from Timbavati.

2007

Introduction of two golden lionesses from the Kruger Region, who bond with the White Lion pride.

2008

Global White Lion Protection Trust initiates the research for the White Lion genetic marker in partnership with Swansea University (UK).

2009

Resolution 33 to protect White Lions initiated by Linda Tucker and Indigenous Leaders passed by delegates from 54 countries at World Wilderness Congress in Mexico.

2009

Partnership with Valhalla Wilderness Society (Canada) to conduct Panthera leo comparative genetic analysis with the white “Spirit Bear” (subspecies Ursus Americanus Kermodeii).

2009

Partnership with Frederick Research Facility (USA) to conduct White Lion genetic research.

2012

Jason A. Turner collaborates with the international research in labs in 7 countries, comparing White Lion genetics with Spirit Bear, snow leopards, golden lions and tiger genetics to identify the unique genetic code that determines the white colouration in Panthera leo Tsau.

2013

Introduction of two golden lionesses from the Kalahari to strengthen the Kruger-based genetic pool.

2013

Landmark discovery of White Lion genetic marker. Publication of paper on the White Lion genetic marker in Nature Communications Magazine and announcement by BBC.

2014

Global Big Cat Alliance Conference hosted in White Lion Heartlands.

2015

Two golden lionesses break out of the greater Kruger and dig their way into the White Lion Heartlands.

2015

Cleopatra, a formidable golden lioness from neighbouring Kapama Private Nature Reserve is donated to the project after years of attempting to gain access to the White Lion Heartlands.
Watch here as BBC covers the story

2016

Assegaia and his sister Gaia are introduced to the free-roaming prides of the White Lion Heartlands, bringing in a new genetic pool of White Lions.

2020

Queen Marah’s royal lineage flourishing in their ancestral Heartlands to the 4th generation.

Land

2004

Purchase of the White Lion Heartlands, Tsau, an ancient Sacred Natural Site at the epicentre of White Lion natural ancestral homelands in exact alignment with Giza, Great Zimbabwe and Adam’s Calendar. See the results of ecological regeneration through the protection of the White Lions.

2007

Procurement of Tula, the 2nd wilderness lands adjoining Tsau property.

2011

Procurement of Mbube, 3rd wilderness lands in extending the Protected Area for 3 free roaming prides of integrated White Lions with golden lions from the greater region.

People

2004

Launch of StarLion Eco-Cubs programme and cultural heritage events calendar.

2007

Presentation to Dr. Nelson Mandela, with 3 of our founding StarLion Centres.

2007

Two presentations to the South African Parliament – calling for White Lion Protection.

2007

Hollywood Director and Creator of Barney the Purple Dinosaur, Sheryl Leach, becomes a significant land benefactor, and Patron of the Global White Lion Protection Trust.

2008

StarLion Centres present on Heritage Day Celebration, attended by Parliamentarians and dignitaries, including Head of Parliament, Hons MJ Mahlangu, who signs onto the Advisory Council of the Global White Lion Protection Trust.

2009

Heritage Day presentations with StarLion Centre White Lion School of Hope and 18 local schools in partnership with local municipality to protect White Lion Heritage beyond the Soccer World Cup 2010.

2009

9 May 2009: Parliamentary regime-change, and consequent critical setbacks in legislation for Panthera leo.

2010

Angela and Udo Neumann become significant land benefactors.

2011

Focus on international support, in partnership with Wisdom University, School of Sacred Activism, One Spirit Learning Alliance and donor organisation, Corelight (USA).

2011

StarLion Eco-Cubs educational programme goes from strength-to-strength, leading up to an annual cultural event in celebration of the White Lions with thousands of community members in attendance.

2014

Peter and Jennifer Buffet become significant long-term benefactors to the Global White Lion Protection Trust.

2014

International Launch of Global March for Lions in 65 countries. Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu unites in support of the White Lion cause, with a Global Prayer.

2015

Game of Thrones star, Jerome Flynn, comes on board as the Patron of the Global White Lion Protection Trust and Linda Tucker Foundation (UK).

2016

7 StarLion Centres established, with infra-structural support, food gardens, and StarLion curriculum in place led by graduates from the Academy for LionHearted Leadership™.

2016

One United Roar (O.U.R Campaign for Nature) launched in partnership with the Linda Tucker Foundation as an international talent challenge, with participation from youth leaders around the globe, hosted by our very own local StarLion ambassadors.

2017

First national-standard White Lion staged performance (Garangani).

2019

StarLion Centres perform a White Lion Cultural event at the ASSEGAIA Conference for the protection of Sacred Natural Sites.

2020

LionHearted Leadership™ Training launched Online.