“Who will now care for the animals, for they cannot look after themselves? Are there young men and women who are willing to take on this charge? Who will raise their voices, when mine is carried away on the wind, to plead their case?”
“And God made the beasts of the Earth after his own kind and said it was so. That’s you my friends, god was talking about you. You have every right to be on this Earth, as much right as we have, for it is we who have destroyed it.”
Sometimes it only takes one small action to start fulfilling a liftetime dream.
We may have many dreams we want to be realized throughout our lives, some get done some are forgotten, but some will never leave you, and there will always be an occasion that reminds you of their constant presence.
At my 18 years of age, in 1988, living in Nairobi, Kenya and just finished my High School, my biggest dream was to go and help an extraordinary man called George Adamson who was around 80 at the time, famed as the ‘Lion Man of Africa’ and now regarded as one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation.
Unfortunately, those were very troubled years, with a lot of poachers activity, bandits and much corruption, allowing many animals and people to be killed for money. So I hesitated.
Since I had been in Kenya as a teen I became very passionate about wildlife but especially Lions since watching them living free in their habitat while visiting the National Parks and Reserves. It was such a precious gift.
It was an incredible experience to watch them in their majesty, the full expression of the Spirit, feeling such a deep connection, albeit also aware of their vulnerability for the greed of man and the increasing population.
I was so amazed by George Adamson’s work and his wife Joy. They were returning wild animals that had been raised in captivity, from Zoos, Circuses or private homes back to the wild which was not a very easy task to do, and had never been done before. With very little support and funding.
As with always with wild animals, there was a crash of interests between the people living on the land and the big amount of money that wild animals were being valued while being dead.
“If all the beasts were gone, man would die from great lonliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man.” Chief Seattle in a letter to US President Franklin Pierce 1855.
Unfortunately in August 1989, he was shot dead by poachers in the Kora National Park (the article https://www.fatheroflions.org/Articles_NewsItems2.html) where he was living there with his lions.
His wife had been killed too previously in 1980.
They both used to live in very remote areas for their work, but through their study and help in the preservation of wild animals in Kenya, having written many books, they left a legacy of understanding that animals had feelings and emotions too.
During those years poachers and bandits were more interested in Rhinos Horns, Elephant Tusks, Cheetas, Leopards and Lion’s skins, as there was a very high demand on the market.
“Calm, self-possessed, white-bearded, well-build, he looked uncannily like one of his Lions. As he shook my hand I noticed the radiant sweetness in his face, contrasting with the alertness in his probing, keen, deep-blue eyes.
There was no doubt that he was inextricably linked with Nature for all time and that Nature, in her turn, accepted him unconditionally into her fold.” Sue Hart
I was devastated and touched very deeply. He was an idol for me, he loved animals so deeply and through his life was showing the world the importance of their presence in the wild. At that time I was very worried about the lions he was looking after at the reserve, and what would become of them, scared that they would be sent back to Zoos.
I read his book “My Pride and Joy” which explains his experiences with Lions and expanded, even more, my love for these animals. I became a collector of all the postacards, Posters and books I could find about them.
My first sold oil painting was indeed a beautiful Lion, and made many more over time until I started with Mandalas. Even my camper van was called “Simba” (Lion in Swahili). Writing this post has made me want to start painting them again.
The story started when George Adamson as a warden of the newly created Reserves had to kill a Lioness to save one of his assistants, later it was discovered that she was a mum of 3 cubs. Two were sent to Zoos and one was adopted by George and Joy with the name of Elsa.
Through their life experience with her, they began, back in 1950, to show a different aspect of the relationship with the environment, not one of dominance but of cooperation and love.
They were the first ones to testify and experience a real relationship with animals in the wild. Joy wrote a book called Born Free about their experiences with Elsa. It became a movie and later after their death, the actors of the Born Free movie, Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, ( https://www.bornfree.org.uk/about-us) started the Born Free Foundation to continue George and Joy Adamson work to save animals from captivity and returning them to the wild throughout the world, and are still doing it successfully today. Watch this beautiful and inspirational video about Virginia McKenna https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYBijX2uxyw
That is why I am so passionate about the work they do. You can still find the “Born Free” and “Living Free” movies on Amazon.
You can watch this beautiful BBC documentary on YouTube showing the whole story. “The Born Free Legacy”
And you can also watch this full movie about the years when John Fitzjohn lived there as his assitant and his last days. “To Walk with Lions”
I was so disgusted by what had happened and by the constant fight that many people had to endure to save the lives of wild animal, even costing their own lives in amidst the greed of billionaires that did not have anything better to do than going around wasting their money on killing animals or possessing their horns and tusks for unproven miraculous powers.
At the time I used to write many poems, although I threw them away many years ago I still recall a part of one I wrote about The Lion.
“You were once the King of Nature and you knew no fear, but now the sour smell of blood from brothers that have crossed the line hunts you.
You were the Hunter, now you are the Prey,
you have been betrayed by powers unkown and there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
One day I will hear your cry at night and I will know that the last diamond of this immense treasure has ceased to Shine.”
Even more so still troubles me today as we are still talking about it, facing the threat of many species becoming extinct, like Giraffes for example, and many already extinct.
I intended to remain in Kenya and somehow, even if I lacked the knowledge, beginning to volunteer at the Parks or the Animal Orphanage. But I was a foreigner and my family was returning to Italy, the only way that I was able to remain there was by finding a job with an Italian Travel Agency that could give me the necessary work permit and visa to remain in the country with a sustainable income.
Unfortunately, destiny decided otherwise and when I was about to sign the contract, the Local manager decided to hire a personal friend, and instead, I got sent to work with another tour operator to the Canary Island, where I stayed for 9 years!
It took me many years of my life to recover from this experience. I also tried to go back to Kenya again for holiday but everything had changed so much, all the people I knew there had left, so to be able to adapt to European life I had to bury all my dreams and forget about them and move on.
Until the invention of the Internet and the appearance of Google which I started using around 2004.
My burning unanswered question was what had happened to George’s Lions after his death and was so happy to learn that a man that was helping George, Gareth Stephenson was able to recover them and move them to Botswana (https://www.fatheroflions.org/Kora_Revisited.html), while George’s previous assistant John Fitzjohn, had since started another rehabilitation center in Tanzania and now is working with the Kenyan Wildlife Service to restore the Kora National Park (http://www.georgeadamson.org/kora), and then found out about the Born Free Foundation and the work they were doing. I was thrilled.
At the time I had formed a cultural and musical Association in Spain where together with other friends we were organizing events to expand awareness about the respect for Mother Earth through Arts, Music and living in contact with Nature. But I was not able to raise sufficient funds to be sent to The Foundation, not even for our association which had to be closed down due to lack of funds.
But now, I am so finally over joyed that through my Art and thanks to all the beautiful people that have bought in my Zazzle shop I am finally able to at least start with my first adoption of a Lion which hopefully will be followed by many more. There are very few Lions living wild and with the growth of the population it is feared that they will be disappear soon.
“It is not enough to be compassionate. You must Act” Amy Bartell
You could do the same just for 3£ a month and receive a lovely Toy of your choice. Please check https://www.bornfree.org.uk/adopt
You can read more about my Charity Goals through my Art in the Charity Page.
WITH THE EMERGENCY OF THE AUSTRALIA BUSHFIRES I AM SELLING MY MANDALAS AT 40% DISCOUNT TO GIVE FUNDS TO WWF AUSTRALIA . CHECK MY ORIGINALS FOR SALE OR DONATE DIRECTLY FROM THEIR LINK.
Life unfortunately constantly takes us away from our real deepest dreams as we become so busy for survival and dealing with so many inputs and information.
It is only by being in silence and take time to be by your self, if you can in Nature, that you can truly discover those hidden cravings that come directly from your soul.
And now today, it is your turn to make them realize, even if it is only one little gesture or step like this one, but your inner self will be overjoyed and many more beautiful steps will follow.
You just need to start with one.