Artist and conservationist Andrew Bone is working hard to make sure his paintings aren’t the only way we’ll view the majestic lion.
Last month, Bone and his non-profit, the Forever Wild Foundation, assisted Wildlife ACT in completing its second lion relocation in Africa. The operation involved transporting two young lion brothers from the border of Botswana to the Hluhluwe-iMflozi Park in South Africa.
Bone says the efforts help boost the otherwise dwindling number of lions in Africa. Lion populations have been decreasing at alarming rates, with studies estimating the population will shrink by 50 percent in the next 20 years unless extensive conservation efforts are made.
“Due to the man-made restrictions in creating wildlife reserves, predator populations cannot introduce fresh gene pools naturally by nomadic animals,” Bone writes. “Therefore, to ensure the health of lion, cheetah and wild dog populations, the authorities have to introduce ‘new blood’ from distant regions.”
Prior to being introduced to a new pride, the relocated lions live in an enclosure known as a “boma” within the park for a few weeks. The enclosure includes solar powered electrified wiring, an elephant-proof water tank, adequate shade, and a feeding platform.
Once the lions are given a clean bill of health, they are again moved so they can interact with a pride of lionesses. The relocation project monitors the health of the lions and tracks their movements by attaching collars.
Bone’s first lion relocation took place in December 2016 when he and Wildlife ACT transported three male lions to Hluhluwe-iMflozi Park. His other conservation efforts have included the collaring and tracking of cheetahs as well as wild dogs.
“If I could, I would work on depictions of lion all day—each one I work with hands on is totally unique in both character and ‘battle scars’ and deserves to be immortalized on canvas,” Bone says. “However, the lion is not only threatened species and that is why I also paint a lot of cheetah, wild dog, leopard and elephant.”
Bone is intrigued by a wide variety of wildlife, from giraffes and raptors to dung beetles. He says he will continue to dedicate time to his artwork and conservation efforts so these species do not disappear from the planet.
“The question is time—how many hours in the day to paint, and how long can the species survive for,” Bone says.