Londolozi’s mission statement in 1972:
We aim to create a model in wise land management by using the many qualities of the natural system and integrating our visitors with the environment and the local people to the benefit of all. Our primary objective is to demonstrate that man and wildlife can interact on a sustainable basis.
Lions are one of the world’s most iconic species and it is in fact with this majestic beast that Londolozi’s story began in 1926. As Dave Varty recalls in his book, The Full Circle, “My first lessons were in hunting. We were brought up to track and shoot lions in the belief that the reduction of predators or ‘vermin’ would assist the rebuilding of game numbers which, in earlier times, had been decimated by the ‘biltong hunters’…” Although most of the reasons for hunting lions have changed in the last few decades, reliable statistics from Panthera show that their numbers are declining rapidly with only about 2700-3200 lions left in ‘wild’ and ‘managed’ areas in South Africa. In Africa, as a whole, the population has dropped by 90 percent in the last 75 years due to issues such as loss and fragmentation of habitat primarily due to agriculture, a decline in natural prey due to overhunting by humans and human-lion conflict where lions kill the livestock that is replacing their natural prey options and are then persecuted as a result. But what Londolozi’s story has shown is that there is hope yet.
Through the iconic stories of lions such as Big Black, the Majingilane and prides as long standing as the Spartas and the Tsalalas, we have shown that there is another way for people and wildlife to exist harmoniously together for the good of all. The root of the word Londolozi is the Zulu word for protect and means “protector of all living things”. This is the ambitious conservation ethic that Londolozi embraces in its sensitivity to the natural world and which came to the fore in the 70’s.
As Dave Varty recollects, “Then one day I knew that the killing was over. A new understanding permeated my being: nature’s forces and wilderness restoration were a greater challenge and a more rewarding option. I came to understand the implications of advancing green frontiers… We would have to advocate for less of man’s work in whatever was left untouched of the wilderness landscape.” It is this great awakening that birthed a Londolozi, which focused itself on pure conservation through eco-tourism, a model that others have begun to follow around the globe.
Thanks to this very platform, Londolozi’s lions have unknowingly become ambassadors for their species. By allowing us to follow their lives and learn their stories, guests have come to take their photographs and carry their tales home with them to share with the rest of the world. By spreading their stories and supporting this wilderness, guests such as you have encouraged others to see, fall in love with and conserve these great beasts. Quite literally, it is places such as Londolozi and the Greater Kruger National Park that are helping to conserve this population of lions, as dedicated people work hard to keep tracts of wilderness viable for these animals to roam naturally.
Today is World Lion Day and in a critical time where this majestic species is under great discussion, we take this opportunity to celebrate the lions of Londolozi and what they have given all of us over the years. As we look to the future, we choose to re-commit ourselves to protecting this species. What are some of the things that you believe we could be doing to help protect lions in Africa?
Written by: Londolozi Ranger Amy Attenborough
Infographic designed by: Andrea Campbell, Londolozi Ranger