Fifty life-size lion sculptures were auctioned off to the highest bidder on 6th November, in what can only be described as a spectacular celebration of Kenya’s magnificent wildlife heritage.
Organised by the Born Free Foundation in collaboration with Wild in Art, the star-studded event marked the climax of the Pride of Kenya project, raising millions of shillings for wild lion conservation.
“These exquisite fibre-glass lion sculptures have all been innovatively and intricately decorated by top Kenyan artists. Each and every one is a unique work of art.” said Alice Owen of Born Free Kenya. “However, they are not just for decoration. They carry a critical message: Kenya’s wild lions are in serious trouble and need our urgent help.”
Held at the Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarters, a whole host of dignitaries were present at the colourful Pride of Kenya auction, including the Assistant Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Hon. Josphat Nanok, Virginia McKenna OBE, star of the film Born Free and founder of the Born Free Foundation, and Dr Julius Kipng’etich, Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service.
The Government of Kenya has backed the Pride of Kenya initiative from the very beginning when the Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Rt Hon. Dr Wekesa attended the launch at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi back in July. His presence has served to reinforce both his personal enthusiasm and the Government’s commitment to this important issue.
Dr Kipng’etich proclaimed: “Our mission at KWS is clear. Firstly, to stabilise our lion population and then, working with all sectors of society and our partner organisations like Born Free Foundation, to find ways to allow that lion population to grow. When it comes to wildlife conservation, Kenya is an undisputed world-leader.”
The issue of lion conservation has certainly been brought to the fore by this amazing public art display. Kenya may still be a lion stronghold but the reality is that without urgent action, Africa’s greatest symbol, the lion, could be extinct across much of its current range within 20 years – a message that has sent shockwaves throughout Africa and the rest of the world.
Virginia McKenna OBE, said: “I first visited Kenya when the film Born Free was made in 1964. Despite the inevitable impact of development, this beautiful country still has an abundance of wildlife and wild places, and Pride of Kenya is a testament to Kenya’s determination to make wildlife conservation a priority. However, the challenge will be to ensure that this remains the case in the years ahead. Pride of Kenya has shown the way to bring all sectors of society together for wildlife.”
Numerous business leaders, including Vimal Shah, MD of Bidco Group Kenya, were also present to support the event.
“I think I can speak on behalf of all those who have participated in Pride of Kenya by saying that this event truly marked a historical moment in Kenya’s wildlife history” stated Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundation. “Not only has this been a wonderful celebration of Born Free Foundation’s 25th Anniversary, it has also set a benchmark for lion conservation over the next 25 years. It will be a challenge, but with the breadth of support and commitment shown here this evening, I know we can all do it. Born Free looks forward to working with KWS in coming months and years to see this dream become a reality.”
For more details contact Alice Owen on 0735 200200 or Wanja Kimani on 0722 524837 or go to the Pride of Kenya website on www.prideofkenya.or.ke or the Born Free website on www.bornfree.org.ukPictures and more information will follow soon so please do check back!!!