Monday, October 12, 2015

Kevin Richardson the Lion Whisperer

Kevin Richardson is a South African animal behaviourist who has worked extensively with native animals of Africa. Richardson worked in a 1600-acre Lion Park in Broederstroom, a town 35 miles north of his hometown, Johannesburg, in South Africa. While specializing in lions, he also interacted with hyenas and leopards.

Richardson has a special facility called the Kingdom of the White Lion in Broederstroom. The park, which was set up with the help of Rodney Fuhr, is 800 hectares (2,000 acres) and was built for the set of the movie White Lion. Richardson cares for thirty-nine lions at this facility. Currently, the facility is private, but there are plans to open it to the public.

Richardson has worked with big cats and relies on intuition rather than static rules. He has slept next to, fed, and lived with lions. Along with lions, he has worked with cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas. He prefers lions to any other big cat. His relationship with the animals, however, has not been an instant one. He has known all of the lions he works with since they were cubs. As a rule, Richardson only interacts with lions he has been with since their birth.

The lion population in Africa has dropped from about 350,000 to an estimated 25,000 during a fifteen-year-span. Richardson hopes the media attention of his movies will raise public awareness and educate them on the need to protect and conserve Africa's animals. Lion hunts in South Africa garner more than 90 million dollars (£60 million) a year according to the Professional Hunters Association. Trophy hunting is worth $91.2 million a year and foreign tourists sometimes pay up to $40,000 to shoot a lion.