Free born Star Virginia McKenna has warned that lions could go extinct in the wild during their lifetimes.
The actor and wildlife activist spoke as 25 life-size sculptures of big cats were unveiled for a UK-wide tour.
The Born Free Foundation, named after the iconic 1966 film, says the number of wild lions is declining so drastically that big cats could become extinct in much of their wild range within 30 years.
The main threats to lions include destruction of their habitat, as humans increasingly take more land for agriculture and development, as well as human-wildlife conflict – where animals can be killed in retaliation if they attack livestock.
The illegal wildlife trade – in which they are poached for their skin and body parts – also plays a role, as does the climate crisis and declining prey numbers for lions.
Wild lions have disappeared from over 95% of their historic range in Africa, and WWF estimated 20,000 remained, up from 10 times more when the movie Born Free was filmed – a “terrifying decline” by 90% in just 55 years â. , the charity called it.
UK-based LionAid, which analyzed a series of data in 2020, fears the numbers may be as low as 9,610.
The exhibition of bronze sculptures, slated to mark what would have been the 100th birthday of her husband and film co-star Bill Travers, will conclude its nationwide tour in Edinburgh in the fall.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is a sculpture of Elsa, the film’s star lion based on a true story, which has been recycled to live in nature.
It also features Cecil, whose murder by a trophy hunter sparked global outrage.
The charity declared 2022 as the “Year of the Lion” and a fund was established in memory of Bill Travers to use the money from the exhibit to protect wild lions and end the lion hunt.
Will Travers, son of Bill and co-founder of Born Free, said, âLions face many challenges, in the wild and in captivity. We simply cannot ignore the falling numbers for just a moment longer. “
Last month, the government presented plans for an import ban on hunting trophies, but no date has yet been set for its second reading.