A white lion called Mufasa is in danger of being auctioned off to the highest bidder, with fears he’ll end up as prey for trophy hunters.
The three-year-old lion was confiscated by law enforcement from a family in Pretoria, South Africa, who were keeping him as a pet, without a permit.
Afterwards, the Wild for Life Rehabilitation Centre, in the Rustenburg area, took care of Mufasa, where he’s stayed ever since.
However, the rehabilitation centre now fears the white lion could be sold at auction, the most likely scenario being either sold for trophy hunting or sold for lion bones.
There are fewer than 300 white lions left in the world, and only 13 in the wild, according to IOL.
An online petition was started to raise awareness and to try to re-home Mufasa, along with his partner, Suraya, in a sanctuary.
The petition, started by Carel Zietsman, states:
Mufasa was confiscated by law enforcement and handed to a wildlife rehabilitation centre to be cared for. The rehab centre acquired a second cub Suraya, as a companion for Mufasa.
Mufasa and Suraya are now three years old and are inseparable.
Nature conservation officials refused permission for Mufasa to be relocated to a sanctuary, who offered to care for both Mufasa and Suraya for their natural lives, free of charge. Instead, the rehab centre was told telephonically that Mufasa will be auctioned to raise funds for the department.
We ask you to sign our petition, asking for both Mufasa and Suraya to be donated to a sanctuary chosen by the people who took care of them for the past three years, to prevent them from being exploited.
So far, more than 195,000 people have signed.
Carel Zietsman, the lawyer for the Wild for Life Rehabilitation Centre, said, if Mufasa was auctioned off, there would only be two outcomes: trophy hunters, or slaughtered and sold for lion bones.
Legally, we think the department responsible for nature conservation has a moral and legal obligation to look after wild animals. The rehab centre where Mufasa is kept has just been served with a court application by NatCon to interdict them to hand him over. Obviously, we are going to take Mufasa’s side and oppose this.
We believe Mufasa and Suraya (another lion in the centre, also facing the same fate) have the right to live the rest of their natural lives in a sanctuary where they will be as close to free as is humanly possible.
Zietsman added how the care for animals, particularly in sanctuaries, has evolved, not just feeding them but looking after the creature’s well-being and emotional state until they die.
This means that they should not be subjected to stress or kept in circumstances that induces stress or emotional hardship.
The lawyer added his offer to relocate Mufasa to another sanctuary was declined by the department responsible for nature conservation, and he is now taking the case to the High Court in Mmabatho.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.