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Why this is important 

The White Lion is a critically endangered animal, originating from South Africa’s Greater Timbavati region in the heart of the UNESCO Kruger-2-Canyons Biosphere Reserve region. White Lions hold significant conservation and cultural value for the indigenous Tsonga and Sepedi communities of the region and for many cultures across Africa and the world. Carrying a unique genetic marker, the White Lions are a rare phenotype with profound cultural and conservation significance. Today, there are fewer than 12 White Lions in the wilds of their endemic habitat. Despite ongoing forced removals from the K2C biosphere, this genetic rarity continues to occur and is an important part of the biodiversity of this region.

White Lions lack national and international legislative protection and are victims of habitat encroachment, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict. In particular, they are hunted as trophies in captivity through the legal ‘canned’ hunting industry. White Lions are forcibly removed from their natural habitat, sent to zoos and circuses around the globe, dismembered to provide unproven medical benefits, speed-bred in commercial captive breeding operations, and transferred from cub-petting to captive slaughter farms to be shot as tame adults.

Without increased protection, the White Lions of Greater Timbavati face extinction in the near future. We urge CITES, the IUCN and the South African Government to list the White Lion (Panthera leo tsau) as a critically endangered sub-population and increase protection measures of this rare and culturally revered animal.


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