Andrew Bone Boosts South Africa’s Lion Population

Andrew Bone Evening Watch Park West Gallery

“Evening Watch” (2012), Andrew Bone

Wildlife artist and conservationist Andrew Bone does more than create stunning, photorealistic paintings to bring about awareness of African wildlife – he actively tries to save it.

Bone and his non-profit organization, the Forever Wild Foundation, recently worked to transfer lions to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in South Africa in order to bolster the lion population. Below is Bone’s account of his fascinating efforts.

 

LION INTRODUCTION TO HLUHLUWE-IMFOLOZI PARK

By Andrew Bone

Andrew Bone lion Park West Gallery

Andrew Bone with one of three lions relocated to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Bone)

We watched with growing anticipation as the Cessna 402C aircraft, carrying three male lions, dropped out of the heavy cloud cover and into the evening twilight. It had been a long day, and working with the Wildlife ACT staff, it had begun at 3:30 am searching for an elusive pack of wild dogs towards the edge of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.

The Forever Wild Foundation had become involved with Wildlife ACT and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in June 2013 with financing the re-introduction of a pack of wild dogs into the uMkhuze Game Reserve. Cole du Plessis, the Wildlife ACT monitor, had asked if on this occasion if I would help in locating a small pack of wild dogs that, due to a weak signal from the alpha male’s collar, had been eluding the monitoring team for days.

Two hours later, criss-crossing dirt tracks and stopping frequently to check the signal strength and direction, we finally found the alpha male, Enanela, and his pack alarmingly close to the boundary fence. Cole kept hard on their trail, needing 20 minutes of close proximity in order for his handheld monitor to download Enanela’s invaluable information stored in his collar’s transmitter. This information would later be scrutinized.

Andrew Bone lions Park West Gallery

Workers prepare the lion “boma” for the arrival of three lions. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Bone)

Every day, teams of volunteers track down various endangered species within certain Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife protected areas. Wild dogs, lions and cheetahs are prioritized and any abnormality in their behaviour acted upon immediately. On many occasions animals have been saved from snares or injuries because of this close monitoring. It is a tiring and expensive routine carried out twice – daily and which Wildlife ACT is committed to totally.

By mid-morning we made our way to the park’s lion ‘boma’ which would be home to three brothers for the next few weeks. The Forever Wild Foundation has helped finance the construction of the enclosure and I was intrigued and impressed with the knowledge, research and equipment the Ezemvelo staff had poured into the project. From solar powered electrified wiring to elephant proofing the water tank to ensuring adequate shade and the construction of a ‘feeding platform.’ Every effort was being made to protect the lions from human interaction. Everywhere was a frenzy of activity. Fortunately the plane had been delayed having to refuel at Lanseria Airport, as all personnel were busy with finishing touches. Finally, with a last check we left in a small convoy for the dirt air strip in Hluhluwe town.

With a final spurt of its throttle, the ridiculously small-looking aircraft rumbled to a halt. The rear door opened and a very tired Dr. Rowan Leeming, the Ezemvelo veterinarian, climbed down. For the two pilots, Ryan Beeton and Steve Beck of The Bataleurs, and Rowan, it was the final leg of a very long journey. The day before they had transported five drugged wild dogs north from Zimanga Private Game Reserve in Zululand to Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve in the Northern Cape, there they collected three adult lions and delivered them to Khamab Kalahari Private Game Reserve in the North West Province. From there, they then up-lifted our three lion brothers (donated by Khamab Kalahari Private Game Reserve) to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. It is very humbling to know that these pilots give their time and skills freely and voluntarily.

Andrew Bone lions Park West Gallery

A lion is lifted into a truck for transportation. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Bone)

I peered in the rear and saw the three enormous three-and-a-half-year-old lions sound asleep and blissfully unaware of the enormous impact that they were to make on Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. Due to the man-made restrictions in creating wildlife reserves, predator populations cannot introduce fresh gene pools naturally by nomadic animals. Therefore, to ensure the health of lion, cheetah and wild dog populations, the authorities have to introduce ‘new blood’ from distant regions. These programs are vital to these species but require funding, knowledge, experience and great dedication. Fortunately all are in abundance, except the funding.

By the time we had managed to remove the three lions from their confines, load them onto the pick-ups and drive to the boma within the park, it was well after dark and a light rain had begun falling. We drove inside the enclosure, off loaded the cats and, by the light of our head lamps the team consisting of the veterinarian, park ecologist, section rangers and staff of Ezemvelo and Wildlife ACT, went about the vital business of health checks, blood-taking and fitting monitoring collars and chips.

Andrew Bone lions Park West Gallery

Andrew Bone helps with checking a lion’s health before it is collared. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Bone)

As the exhaustive work began drawing to a close, two of the brothers began showing signs of their sedative wearing off. Rowan gave the third an antidote to ensure the three would regain consciousness at about the same time. From the safety of the feeding platform we were rewarded with the sight of all three lions sitting up and becoming aware of the fresh scent of the Zululand bush that would be their new home.

In a matter of weeks, once the brothers have shown no ill-effects of their ordeal and received a clean bill of health, they will once again be sedated and taken to the middle of the park and introduced to a pride of lionesses. Our reward for all the hard work and planning bringing these three strong young lions from the desert of the Kalahari to the traditional hunting ground of King Chaka, will be future generations of healthy lions.

Andrew Bone lions Park West Gallery

Workers finish checking one of the lions before it awakens. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Bone)

In conclusion, on behalf of the Forever Wild Foundation, I would like to commend the rangers and staff of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, veterinarians and Wildlife ACT for their outstanding work, untiring dedication and total professionalism in protecting the wildlife and natural resources of KZN.

This crucial operation, so vital to the continued existence of this apex predator, would not have been possible without the generous support of Park West Gallery and collectors and benefactors.

Content edited for clarity.

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • Behind The Artist: Mark Kanovich

    Contemplative and discerning, timid, yet trusting — Georgian-born artist Mark Kanovich doesn’t claim to understand the complexity of human emotion. Instead, he confides in its uncertainty.Consider the words of ...
    Read More
  • Renew Your Collection with the 2017 Spring Sale

    The weather may tell you different, but spring has officially arrived at Park West Gallery.With the vibrant hues of Maya Green’s flowers, the lush landscapes of David Najar and ...
    Read More
  • Behind-the-Scenes Look at Chris DeRubeis’ Metal Art

    Flying sparks, dancing flames and chemical cocktails – these are the components that combine to create Chris DeRubeis’ Abstract Sensualism®.Park West Gallery gives collectors an ...
    Read More
  • Jim Warren Collection Now Online

    More than 50 unique works by Neo-Surrealist artist Jim Warren are now available to view and collect from Park West Gallery.Warren’s first solo exhibition with Park West Gallery, “The Painted ...
    Read More
  • Alaska Cruises: Everything You Need to Know

    An Alaska cruise offers stunning views of glaciers, incredible wildlife and a rich culture. But preparing for one of these breathtaking cruises can be tricky.There are a number of factors ...
    Read More
  • Park West Foundation Breaks Records at Best Buddies Fundraiser

    Achieving goals can be fun and rewarding, but none may be more worthwhile than breaking fundraising records.The Park West Foundation participated in the record-breaking 7th Annual South Florida Friendship Walk ...
    Read More
  • New Study Reveals Artists Have Structurally Different Brains

    Calling someone “right-brained” is another way of implying they actively use the creative side of their brain compared to the analytical “left” side. A new study cited by the ...
    Read More
  • Therapeutic Benefits of Art

    Paul Cézanne famously wrote: “Don’t be an art critic, but paint, there lies salvation.”The radical Post-Impressionist imparted these words decades before modern psychology, mental welfare, and stress management were ...
    Read More
  • Marko Mavrovich Paints His Story in New Video

    Artist Marko Mavrovich makes no apologies for his studio. To him, the cluttered piles of paintbrushes, wood and canvases are perfection.“It’s just one of ...
    Read More
  • How Jim Warren’s Artistic Dream Led to a Grammy Award

    Jim Warren is a Grammy Award-winning artist, but not in the traditional sense.Warren’s artwork for Bob Seger’s album “Against the Wind” earned the album the Grammy for Best Album ...
    Read More
  • Tim Yanke Talks Art and Life Lessons

    What lessons can be gleaned from art?Abstract artist Tim Yanke shared what he has learned with Alisa Zee during her “Sunday Edition” morning radio show on March 5. The interview ...
    Read More
  • Behind the Scenes: Jim Warren’s Artistic Process

    As a self-taught artist, Neo-Surrealist painter Jim Warren developed his own method to create his out-of-this-world art.Take a behind-the-scenes look at how Warren brings his artwork to life.Step 1: Sketch ...
    Read More