Trophy hunting Won’t Stop Trying To Get This White Lion

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Trophy hunting is a serious issue in the African grasslands. Sadly, animals in this region are killed every day just so hunters can decorate their walls, with unique animals being in particularly high demand. Special animals, like the white lion, become special targets.

White lions have been idolized by many people — some of which believe the gorgeous creatures to be sacred. But because of this, they are often stolen from their natural habitat, hunted down, killed, or sold on the black market. One such lion found himself caught in the crosshairs of a nasty fate, but his story didn’t end like all the rest…

White lions are the result of a rare mutation. Their standard pigment is dramatically lightened, and as a result, cubs are born with snow-white fur, just like Mufasa, pictured below. 

Trophy huntingCarel Zietsman / Care2 Petitions

But, contrary to popular belief, white lions are not albinos in the strictest term of the word. Their mutation is actually called leucism, which means they have pigment in their eyes, paws, and skin, but lack it in their fur.

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Since white lions are not a sub-species but a genetic anomaly, their numbers in the wild are dwindling. There are less than 300 white lions left, with an estimated 13 remaining in the wild.

Singita Safari Guide

In 2015, South African law officials got wind of an animal living on private property as a pet without a legal permit. They immediately investigated the claim and what they found highlighted how big of an issue this is. 

John Wani / African Wildlife Foundation

There, living in an unfit environment, was a small snow-white cub named Mufasa. He was taken from his mother and sold from who-knows-where. Mufasa was immediately confiscated from his owner. 

Information Nigeria

For temporary holding, Mufasa was transported to the Rustenburg Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. The wildlife center agreed to care for Mufasa while government officials sought legal action against his owner.

Mufasa the White Lion / Facebook

Shortly after Mufasa arrived at the rehabilitation center, rescuers received another young cub named Soraya. Unlike Mufasa, this young lion didn’t suffer from leucism, but she suffered from something else…

Mufasa the White Lion / Facebook

It was clear Soraya suffered traumatic events in her short life. She was extremely anxious and the staff had a hard time consoling her, but then they began to notice a drastic change in her behavior.

Scott Ramsey / Barcroft Media

When she was around Mufasa, she was calmer and less anxious. She stayed close to him, watching how he acted and mimicking his movements. They were inseparable.

Mufasa the White Lion / Facebook

Once the lion cubs were settled in, staff workers performed a thorough physical exam on the two lions. It was during this exam that doctors noticed something unsettling about Mufasa…

Mehgan Murphy / Smithsonian’s National Zoo

They discovered that, at some point in the young cub’s life, he was neutered. Why or how it was done was unknown to the rescue staff. Because of this, uncertainty regarding Mufasa’s future loomed.

Sarah A. Miller / Tyler Morning Telegraph

When officials found out about Mufasa’s condition they announced something unthinkable: Mufasa would be sold at auction due to his infertility. If he couldn’t breed, he was “useless” when it came to conservation. 

African Welcome Safaris

The Department of Rural Environmental and Agricultural Development didn’t have adequate funding, so the sale of Mufasa would bring money to the corrupt government, adding insult to injury.

Immediately, the Rustenburg Wildlife Rehabilitation Center started contacting permanent rescue facilities in the surrounding area. If they couldn’t find a home for Mufasa, he would be killed for sport. 

It wasn’t just Mufasa’s life they were trying to save though. If Mufasa and Soraya were separated, they feared the anxious cub would get so distraught that she’d starve to death under the traumatic conditions.

Mufasa the White Lion / Facebook

After frantically contacting sanctuary after sanctuary, the wildlife center found a place that would not only take Mufasa, but also Soraya — free of charge! Relieved, they submitted a transfer permit application to the department.

United States Fish And Wildlife

 You can imagine their shock when the department denied the wildlife center’s transfer request. But the rescuers wouldn’t be stopped; they drafted a petition to save Mufasa and Soraya.

The petition required 370,000 signatures in order to be brought to the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs. As of 2019, the “Save the white lion Mufasa” appeal stood at 360,201 signatures. In addition, the Rustenburg center hired a lawyer to rebut the outrageous permit denial.

Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili

In the midst of this legal battle, an anonymous donor from the United States offered to pay the government $37,000 to relocate Mufasa and Soraya. This could be the reprieve that everyone has been dreaming of for the two lions. 

While the deal is still being negotiated, the wildlife center’s lawyer is confident that a negotiation will be made. Unfortunately, there are animals all over the world who are in danger, just like Mufasa. One man in Siberian learned this firsthand when he encountered an animal outside of his home…

Mufasa the White Lion / Facebook

On January 28, 2018, a man named Alexey Khaideyev tried leaving his home—only to realize that he couldn’t move his front door. Try as he might, it simply wouldn’t budge. Something seemed to be blocking his way…

Alexey lived in a remote part of the world on the edge of a Siberian village called Solontsovy. There, you’ll find plenty of snow and incredible wildlife. Mysterious door jams, however, weren’t so common.

Alexey’s neighbor Galina said, “He wanted to go out to the yard, but his door was pressed by ‘someone’ from outside.” Through a crack in the door, he could hear something strange…

It sounded like a low growling. Alexey took a peek outside—and he was immediately shocked. There, right outside his front door, was a fully grown Siberian tiger! How the heck did she get there?

A scared Alexey quickly retreated back indoors and made an emergency call to the Ministry of Natural Resources of Khabarovsk to see if they could help. Since Siberian roads are especially bad in the winter, the rescue team was slow to arrive…

“The tiger spent all the day on Alexey’s porch until the emergency team arrived,” said Galina. Thankfully, the rescuers were able to tranquilize the big cat and examine her. They found that she was 10 years old and actually had a few major health issues.

The Siberian Times

Unlike other Siberian tigers, this one on Alexey’s porch didn’t have any front teeth. She suffered from serious gum infections, which likely made it difficult for her to eat—hence the exhaustion. How could they help?

The rescue team had no time to waste; they began their urgent care while transporting the big cat to the nearby Amur Tiger Center. It was the only place that could save her.

Amur Tiger Center

The team first checked her for gunshot wounds or knife gashes—any kind of sign that she’d been hunted—but there were none. She was very malnourished, which unfortunately indicated a sad truth…

The Siberian Times

Had this tiger sought out Alexey’s neighborhood out of desperation? Rescuers speculated she had. Director of the Amur Tiger Center, Sergey Aramilev, said, “The tigress behaved absolutely peacefully as if she was waiting for human help.”

However, the tiger began behaving like a wild animal once they reached their destination. Sergey said, “The animal, though she came for help, will not allow us to approach her.” She may not have had teeth, but she still had claws!

Sergey elaborated on just how complicated that made matters: “In her current physical condition, it is deadly to put her under an anesthetic; yet without this, it is impossible to carry out ‘active’ treatment.” So, what could they do?

East 2 West News via Metro

As if the stakes couldn’t get any higher, the tiger was part of a dying breed—only about 500 Siberian tigers existed in Eastern Russia, according to The Siberian Times. As a female, she was an essential part of any effort to help carry on her species’ survival.

The rescue workers had to resort to desperate measures. Despite the dangers of anesthetics, medics applied sedatives remotely, allowing them to get close to the tiger if need be. Then, they crossed their fingers…

The Siberian Times

“We really hope that the tigress will pick herself up and survive,” Sergey said. “For our part, we are doing everything possible.” Then, rescue workers witnessed what they thought was a major breakthrough in recovery.

They offered the tiger antibiotic-laced mashed meat. Previously, she wasn’t able to consume solid food, but now she suddenly decided it was time to attempt to eat meat again. Had she made the ultimate turnaround?

Sadly, it wasn’t a sustained success, and in early February, the tiger once again stopped eating. “She was in a hopeless state,” said Viktor Kuzmenko, another executive at the rescue center. “There was no fat on her.”

“Age and illnesses took over,” Viktor added sadly. The illness had “natural origins,” and while veterinarians did everything they could, it just wasn’t enough. In the end, it was something she would have to beat on her own.

Sadly, on February 10—just two weeks after the weak tiger was found on Alexey’s doorstep — the animal couldn’t fight any longer, and she passed away at the rescue center. “Nothing could have saved her,” Viktor said.

Amur Tiger Centre

Since tiger preservation has become a priority worldwide in recent years, the species’ numbers have steadily climbed. Still, it’s terribly sad that this tiger was unable to survive. It only further proves that we need to do everything we can to save these beautiful animals!

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