The lions in these photos are being monitored by the Global White Lion Trust (WLT) with internal trackers. White lions are unprotected by South African law, and are a prized hunting trophy due to their natural beauty and rarity. After many years of hunting and removals to zoos and captive breeding areas, white lions are now technically extinct in the wild. This pride is one of only three known to remain in South Africa.
10 Facts about White Lions (from the Global White Lion Trust)
1. White Lions are not albinos, but a genetic rarity unique to one endemic region on the globe: the Timbavati region.
2. The Genetic Marker that makes White Lions unique has not yet been identified by science.
3. The White Lions are currently classified under the general species classification Panthera leo, although this is likely to change after the genetic research undertaken by the Global White Lion Protection Trust reveals important reasons for sub-speciation of this rare phenotype.
4. The earliest recorded sighting of white lions in the Timbavati region was in 1938. However, the oral records of African elders indicate that these unique animals survived in this region for many centuries.
5. The unique white lion gene is carried by certain of the tawny coloured lions in the region, and white cubs occurred in numerous prides in the region.
6. Since their discovery by the West, white lions and those lions carrying the unique gene have been hunted, and forcibly removed from their natural endemic habitat.
7. The last white lion was seen in the wild in 1994, after which time they were technically extinct in the wild.
8. The idea that white lions are genetically inferior to ordinary tawny lions has not been scientifically tested.
9. The idea that White Lions cannot survive in the wild due to perceived lack of camouflage has not been scientifically tested.
10. Currently, there is no law nationally or internationally that protects the White Lions from being wiped off the face of the earth.