In 2008 Caroline went on her first safari to Botswana and Zambia and was mesmerised by southern Africa and its wildlife; particularly the big cats. Wanting to contribute towards the preservation of big cats Caroline volunteered at a wildlife facility in South Africa, hoping to find like-minded individuals and gain insight into the challenges at hand. This experience quietly disturbed Caroline when there was no straightforward answer to her questions regarding the future of the cats being bred. Caroline couldn’t ignore the feeling that something was amiss and so began her journey of questioning and understanding the reality facing South Africa’s big cats.
A week prior to Caroline’s departure from South Africa a friend mentioned the work of Chris Mercer and his late partner Bev Pervan who started Campaign Against Canned Lion Hunting. Caroline, determined to meet them, drove out into the Karoo desert to find these legendary conservationists. Chris and Bev were inspiring, funny and frank about what needed to be done to save Africa’s cats. They also told her about the work Kevin Richardson was doing in Gauteng. After looking at his Youtube Channel Caroline volunteered at the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary and her life was forever altered.
After volunteering she made a donation to the sanctuary and, believing in the transformative power of education, she also helped two young volunteers in their efforts to change career paths towards conservation. Upon returning to France, Caroline’s passion for protecting lions grew stronger each passing month and she knew she had found her calling. When Kevin contacted her and invited her to be a director of his long-awaited foundation – it took less than a nanosecond for her to think about it and say yes!
Caroline’s story is a testament to what is possible when individuals seek to become informed and involved in the issues around lions, canned hunting and unethical volunteering. Caroline believes that the Kevin Richardson Foundation will change lives; just as meeting Kevin has changed hers.
As their relationship grew through several successful projects together, Edwina observed the special bond Kevin had with lions and his burning passion for contributing to their preservation. For the past four years they have been harbouring the dream to start a foundation that will be supported by their prior commercial ventures together. After much planning and hard work the dream is finally taking shape.
Like many who have worked in the natural history space, Edwina is thrilled to finally have the opportunity to meaningfully engage and support a conservation effort that strives to preserve the subjects of our films and of our television shows – whose very existence today is so dramatically under threat.
RODNEY XOLILIE NOMBEKANA
By 1985 South Africa was in a state of emergency and Rodney soon began to participate in the protests; at times finding himself caught in the crossfire between the Apartheid regime’s police service and township dwellers. His father then decided to move his children to the former Ciskei Keiskamhoek to live with a family friend and later in 1987 they moved to Butterworth where his mother was born. In 1990 Rodney’s father moved him once again, this time to live in Port St Johns – his father’s rural home and place of birth. Here on the beautiful wild coast of the Eastern Cape his love for animals and nature was reignited and able to flourish. It didn’t take long for Rodney to become a household name in the villages as he looked after many dogs and cats.
Although immersed in the nature he so loved, growing in up in a rural area without any career guidance left Rodney in a difficult position when it came to choosing a path for study. He eventually enrolled for a diploma in Nature Conservation with the Universdity of South Africa and moved back to Johannesburg to complete his course. Thriving in this space Rodney was chosen as one of a few promising students by the Endangered Wildlife Trust where he was mentored under the leadership of Daniel Marnewick who led the Student Conservation Programme at the time.
It was during this time that Rodney was introduced to the South African Lion Park together with his best friends Solly and Eric. Working with animals at the park came naturally to Rodney and it was not long before he transitioned from casual worker to full time employee. It is here that Rodney met Kevin Richardson who was to become his lifelong colleague and friend. Their style of working with animals – engaged and without force – was very similar and thus created a unique understanding between the two men that would result in Rodney becoming Kevin’s right hand man during that time. Rodney and Kevin worked together for 12 years before Kevin moved on to establish his lion Sanctuary. Rodney founded his own safari company where he still works as a guide and wildlife photographer.
Kevin Richardson is a world-renowned wildlife conservationist and filmmaker, recognised by his persona as the ‘Lion Whisperer’. His mission is to highlight the status of Africa’s most iconic predator, the lion, through his work in the media and alongside fellow campaigners, researchers and scientists.
To learn more about Kevin Richardson click here
ADDRESS: P.O. Box 1017, Derdepark, Pretoria South Africa, 0035