Animal charity, Warriors of Wildlife, says the four lions rescued from Ukraine were living in conditions completely unsuitable for these animals. The director of the organisation, Lionel de Lange, says these animals do not belong in caged environments as solitary animals.
The lions were released on Thursday morning and will live out their life on the Simbonga Game Farm near Jeffrey’s Bay in the Eastern Cape.
“They will never be free, but at least semi-free. The conditions over there living in private zoos, somebody’s small garden to be poked by tourists for photos. It is not on. We have a lot of people who support us, who feel the same way. They will never be released into the wild, unfortunately, but at least we can give them a better life,” says de Lange.
This is the fourth relocation, totalling 20 lions, from Ukraine to South Africa by the Warriors of Wildlife organisation since 2018.
Two of the lions are from a private zoo, while the other two were kept as pets. De Lange says he is relieved the animals completed the long journey.
“Stressful, very stressful, and then very happy. Just them arriving after 14 hours on the road from JHB yesterday (Wednesday), a huge relief and then seeing them in their night shelters now, ready to be released. It has been a long hard road but we got here, many obstacles, and now it is their chance at life to be lions. As of today (Thursday) they can lie around, roll in the grass and be a lion.”
The release of the four rescued lions was witnessed by a number of onlookers and supporters of the Warriors of Wildlife.
Shaun Jacklin says it was a wonderful experience to be part of the release.
“I get emotional if you think of where they are being kept, whether in circus cages or zoos, it’s unbelievable to watch them in this environment. And we wish there are more people that care and more organisations like this. To think of these four arriving today, it is wonderful for them, but to think of all those that are all there. We need to bring them home.”