White lions are among the most unique big cats in the world. They owe their appearance to a rare color mutation and, contrary to a popular belief, they are not albinos. The animals are endemic to one region in the world, the Timbavati region of South Africa. The recessive trait which causes the lion’s coloration does not innately influence the animals in a negative way, but white lions still face serious difficulties when it comes to surviving in the wild. According to the Global White Lion Protection Trust, there are currently hundreds of white lions living in captivity and, shockingly, only 13 left in the wild. Mufasa is one of the hundreds of white lions whose home is in captivity, but he has a chance to spend his life in a sanctuary – a chance which is being taken away from him.
Mufasa was handed to a wildlife rehabilitation center as a baby after being confiscated by law enforcement, a Care2 petition reports. After getting Mufasa in their care, the rehabilitation center acquired a second cub to keep the lion company – Suraya. The two lions are now three years old and have become inseparable friends.
Mufasa and Suraya got a wonderful chance to spend their lives in a sanctuary, which is always the best option for animals who cannot be returned to their natural habitat. Unfortunately, the transfer from the rehabilitation center to the sanctuary did not come to fruition. Nature conservation officials refused permission for Mufasa to be relocated to his new home. Instead of the move to the sanctuary, which offered to care for the lions for the span of their natural lives free of charge, the rehab center was instructed by the phone that Mufasa was to … be auctioned to raise funds for the department.
It seems unbelievable that nature conservation officials would choose to sell the rare and vulnerable animal to whoever pays the most, instead of agreeing to transfer him to a specialized sanctuary that would provide the care he needs and an environment he would feel comfortable in. Raising money in this way is unacceptable and sends a clear message that the lives and well-being of animals are not the priority. Auctioning off Mufasa could lead to the lion ending up anywhere and being exploited for profit – let alone separate him once and for all from Suraya, unnecessarily breaking the bond between the two animals.
The department may be in need of funds, but forfeiting the well-being of a rare white lion to obtain them is in no way justifiable. Click here to sign the petition urging the Minister of Environmental Affairs of South Africa to do the only right thing and save Mufasa from being auctioned off like property.
Image source: Mufasa the White Lion/Facebook