For every trailer viewing of The Last Lions on YouTube, National Geographic will contribute $.10 to lion and big cat conservation in Botswana, Africa.
My Friday evening was any 'Huggers dream date. Dinner and a nature documentary - the New York opening of The Last Lions. Imagine a cinematic slice of life in Botswana, Africa as told by Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons. The lens narrows on one resilient lioness in particular and her harrowing plight to survive and raise her cubs--displaced on the wet Okavango Delta (lions don't like water) due to human encroachment, prairie fires and competing lion prides.
According to the filmmakers, despite lions not being on the endangered species list, wild African populations have dwindled from 450,000 to 20,000 in only a matter of 50 years. With this reality, the true and cinematic tale becomes all the more engaging and sobering--inspiring me to write this review and an important call to action.A Power Couple Set Out to Save Wild African Lion Populations
After the screening, I had the good fortunate to participate in a Q&A; with the film's makers--and National Geographic resident explorers--Dereck and Beverly Loubert. The extraordinary couple spent years documenting the film in order to spread awareness to the plight of the wild African lion population.
Among a flood of questions, direct accounts of their African filmmaking adventures, including run-ins with crocs, snake bites and bouts of malaria, there were three very important take-aways for those of us interested in maintaining biodiversity;
The top three contributions to the decline of the wild African lion population, as addressed by the filmmakers, are:
1. Human encroachment carving into the wild terrain, which the lions need to dwell and hunt.
2. Too high a permissible amount of male lions taken in safari hunts.
3. The burgeoning and increasing demand for lion bones-- as substitutes for the unsustainable and popular use of tiger bones-- in Asian folk remedies.
While they mentioned the South African government continues to allow a certain amount of wild lions to be killed through safari hunting, and, recently, the legal use of lion bones for Asian folk remedies, all is not lost.
There is something we can do. A representative from the Botswana Tourism Board, a film sponsor, said we have about five years to turn the African wild lion situation around--before it's too late.
Take Lion Conservation Action
Go to National Geographic's Cause an Uproar to:
1. Make donations that will raise money for field research, land grants, education and more.
2. Spread the word through social media.
3. Watch the trailer (each view on YouTube gives Nat Geo $.10 to lion conservation) and help make it viral
4. Text "lions" to 50555 to donate $10 to the cause
5. Make a date with the The Last Lions! You won't be wasting your time.
6. Support eco-tourism in Botswana, and other lion-friendly African nations stepping up to the plate in the area of wild lion conservation, by taking a safari there--but certainly don't hunt! (I didn't need to mention that, of course.)