At the end of 2014 AnimalTalk was privileged to visit the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary just outside Pretoria. This was made possible by FleishmanHillard, the PR company for the Discovery Channel (Animal Planet). They have done work with Kevin before, including the show Killer IQ, which was on Animal Planet on DStv in February this year.
Kevin started the sanctuary when he realised that there are lions (and other predators like leopards and hyenas) who cannot be released back into the wild, and who need a place to live out their lives. He wanted to give them a home as close to their natural habitat as possible. Because these lions were bred in captivity, and were used to humans, they would not be able to fend for themselves in the wild. Kevin made it his mission to provide for these animals. He ensures they have food, shelter, companionship, healthcare and, most importantly, enrichment and quality of life.
The sanctuary has large predator enclosures and a very big area of land where the predators can roam free. They are rotated through this area every couple of weeks, giving them a change of environments regularly, which in turn stimulates their senses as they smell the scents of the previous group of animals who were housed there. Kevin stressed that interaction and enrichment are very important to prevent boredom.
Absolutely no breeding takes place on the farm. In fact, one of Kevin’s missions is to educate the public about captive breeding. Most captive-bred lions are used for cub petting, and these cubs cannot be released back into the wild. There is a direct link between cub petting and canned lion hunting. Because there are so many cubs, they are sold on and used for the very sad practice of canned lion hunting. Kevin would like to see carnivores kept in their natural habitats, and is actively campaigning against the mass breeding of cubs for petting for the commercial tourism and volunteering industry.
For more information you can visit Kevin’s website.
This article appears in the April issue of AnimalTalk.