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White lion sitting up

The Astonishing, Confounding Story of South Africa’s White Lions

Last weekend I visited the Global White Lion Protection Trust, a private reserve devoted to protecting white lions and returning them to the wild in South Africa’s Timbavati region. Almost from the moment I arrived, I began to think about how I would write this blog post. I’d been expecting a typical fun weekend in the bush — hanging out with my blogger friends, eating good food, and seeing wildlife in a beautiful place far away from the big city. Sunrise at the Global White Lion Protection Trust, which borders the Timbavati Nature Reserve, which borders Kruger National Park. I got all of those things, and a lot more: Dramatic tales of near-death experiences; an outspoken fashion-model-turned-lion-woman; scientific discussions; mystical stories of spirits and stars; horrific accounts of evil lion-hunters, past and present; a sunset parade through the wilderness with a giant white lion puppet; adorable children singing about the majesty of the Star Lions; and half a dozen Shangaan medicine women stomping the dry, brown earth, gasping through perfumed smoke and screaming into the heavens. I got all of this in just over 36 hours, book-ended by two seven-hour journeys in the back of a van between Johannesburg and Hoedspruit. Several days later, my mind is […]

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Rock the Cradle (of Humankind)

Johannesburg is a new city by human standards, having been founded 125 years ago in 1886. But just a short drive from Joburg lie the remains of some of the oldest human descendants on earth. The Cradle of Humankind, 20 kilometers from town, is a 47,000-hectare World Heritage Site that produced the first adult australopithecine fossil, “Mrs. Ples,” discovered in 1947. Mrs. Ples is believed to be between 2.8 and 2.6 million years old. To date, more than 850 hominid fossils have been discovered in a series of dolomitic limestone caves scattered throughout the Cradle.

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A Tiger in the African Bush

Joe and I just returned from Lionsrock, a wildlife sanctuary about three hours from Joburg near the town of Bethlehem. Lionsrock is a haven for mistreated animals — mostly big cats – rescued from zoos and circuses around the world. Lionsrock, which is a lodge for vacationing humans as well as a sanctuary for retired cats, was founded three years ago by Four Paws (Vier Pfoten), a Vienna-based organization devoted to alleviating animal suffering. Lionsrock residents.

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