Meet our new Youth Ambassadors

Written by Cath Jakins, YouthForLions Coordinator

Published on 04 October, 2019

We recently relaunched our #YouthForLions Ambassador Programme and are proud to introduce our new Youth Ambassadors.

These driven young individuals are set to play an extremely important role with the youth around the world by spreading awareness amongst their schools and communities. Each one of them has something unique to offer, but their passion for wildlife conservation and education is the commonality that has drawn them to our campaign.

Stephanie Klarmann:

Stephanie is a teacher, with her Masters in Psychology and has been a part of the campaign since 2017. She has organised a screening of the Blood Lions® film at Sagan Academy, the school that she teaches at, and continues to show the film to her students while encouraging discussion around the topics of captive breeding, canned hunting and wildlife conservation.

“My first love has always been about protecting animals, whether that meant being involved in welfare or advocacy issues, I knew where I wanted to be. When the issue of breeding lions for canned hunting became public, I was driven by the injustice and cruelty to be a part of something that would bring change. I truly believe in our ability to bring about positive change through education and advocacy, by being a voice for our wildlife. As a wildlife photographer, my greatest hope is that I can showcase Africa’s beautiful wildlife and demonstrate to others why keeping them wild and free is the only way to genuinely experience animals like big cats and elephants. South Africa’s youth can provide an especially powerful voice above those who choose to exploit wildlife. 

As a high school educator, I like to work closely with students and encourage their participation to pledge against supporting captive facilities. I hope that as a #YouthForLions Ambassador I can continue to spread this message to our youth on a greater platform. Education is vital to bringing about change, and I believe young people are more than capable of creating positive transformation when given the opportunity to understand the difference between exploitation and genuine conservation.”

Santhani Rungan:

Santhani is a student at Eden Schools, Durban, and a member of the Durban Youth Council. She has organised #YouthForLions talks at the Durban Youth Council and Eden College, and she arranged for our team to attend the Eden Schools Eco Fest.

“Standing up for what you believe in is something very close to my heart and this related to all facets of life. Especially standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. South Africa’s wildlife makes up an important aspect of our cultural heritage. By being careless and not taking care of our animals, we are destroying an integral part of our community. The majestic creatures that we share our space in Africa with are voiceless and for that they are suffering. Is it up to us to do something about it.

I want to be a #YouthForLions Ambassador because the fight against wildlife crime is never-ending. If we don’t use our voices to speak up for those who cannot fight for themselves, who will? Spreading awareness to our youth is vital as we are the changemakers, the ones who have to take care of the planet and its creatures. Lions are beautiful creatures and if we don’t act, these big cats will continue to suffer at the hands of unkind humans. There is no better time to make a change than the present.”

Ben Wallace:

Ben is a British photojournalist, documentary filmmaker and adventurer with a passion for wildlife and southern Africa. He is a qualified ranger and previously worked as an ecologist and researcher at a game reserve in South Africa.

“I believe that the greatest way to inspire change is to inform and to educate others, and using social media is the best way to maximise this reach, and to maximise the difference that you make. As someone who was fairly knowledgeable on the subject, attending the YouthForLions ‘LIVE WILD’ Workshop and watching the Blood Lions® documentary was completely eye-opening for me. To see these beautiful and magnificent wild animals, the kings of wildlife reduced to a cage, habituated to people, and subjected to a system of breeding and slaughter similar to that of battery farming, is truly heart-breaking.

As young people, it is not necessarily because of our own doing that there are ongoing environmental problems which our planet faces, but it is up to us to be the driving force to inspire change, to make a difference, and to create the future that we want for ourselves, for our planet, and for the wildlife that we share it with. It’s a privilege for me to be a #YouthForLions Ambassador. I will take on this role with great pride and even greater responsibility to help this incredible team to expose the captive lion breeding industry, and to ultimately put an end to this cruel practice once and for all.”

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela.

Quéanne Southwood:

Quéanne is a Durban-based performer who lives for wildlife, conservation and travelling. Her mother, Janine, has worked in the tourism industry for many years and was one of our presenters at the YouthForLions ‘LIVE WILD’ Workshop.

“My love and passion for wildlife started as a young child and its something I had hoped would stay with me and grow into something bigger, as I grew older. As perseverance would have it, now, at the age of 20, I am so honoured to be a #YouthForLions Ambassador for their campaign which aims to educate and bring an end to canned hunting and the exploitative breeding of lions and other predators on farms across South Africa. I owe it to my mom for instilling in me, at a young age, an understanding and respect for our wildlife. Due to my mother’s role in the tourism industry, I have travelled throughout South Africa and was taught to love these beautiful creatures. It is in my blood to protect and do whatever I can to ensure Africa’s wildlife thrives. If you are not filled with overflowing love, compassion and goodwill for all creatures living in nature, You will never know true happiness.

From the words of Mufasa, “Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance.” As humans, we need to understand that balance and respect, from the tiny elephant shrew to the King of the jungle, our lions. This is the circle of life and it’s our job to protect it. As a professional singer and performing artist, it is a privilege to now be able to combine my two biggest passions, music and wildlife, to make a significant difference in saving our lions.”

“If they breathe, they live, if they live, they feel. If they feel they love, if they love, they are aware and if they are aware, they have a soul” – Anthony Douglas Williams.

Ian Swain II:

Ian currently serves as Vice President for Swain Destinations. He lives his passion every day by using travel as a vehicle to enrich and expand the worldviews of travellers from around the world. Blessed with the opportunity to travel the world from an early age, Ian has witnessed both the positive and negative impact that humans have on wildlife.

“Working within the Travel Industry, I have been introduced to the diversity of our world and seen first-hand how this industry can directly contribute to the conservation and sustainability of wildlife and wilderness. I believe one of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to show people our world – to bring them face to face with not only the beauty, but also the challenges. Exposing people to these dire challenges is one thing, but to bring them face to face with them develops the emotional connection. I know through responsible and sustainable travel, we can add value through awareness, conservation and action. That is what I strive to do.

I remember the first time I saw a pride of lions roaming free across African plains; a story that I still tell 15 years later. That moment left an indelible mark on my heart and planted the seeds of purpose. The purpose being that we must be the champions for our wildlife, who deserve our respect and protection. It is no longer enough to simply inspire. It is no longer enough to accept half-measures and moral victories. Now is the time for fully committed action that protects this planet and the wildlife that make it so special.”

The NSPCA has huge animal welfare concerns for the animals exploited in the captive predator and canned hunting industry in South Africa. This industry is unregulated, uncontrolled and is responsible for untold cruelty. It is a tragedy that our wild animals are reduced to profit making machines. Coupled with this members of public are unwittingly encouraging and supporting this cruelty, so it is vital that the public are aware of the truth behind the industry so they can make informed decisions and hopefully choose not to support such an unethical industry.

Sr.Ainsley Hay, Manager, NSPCA Wildlife Protection Unit

Breeding magnificent wild creatures like lions in camps so that they can be slaughtered for ego and money is unconscionable and should be outlawed.  Lions have the right to live in the wild and to continue playing their unique role within the ecological communities of Africa.  The continued existence of the canned hunting industry is a moral outrage that diminishes us all.  This important film shines a light into the dark corners of this ugly business.

Cormac Cullinan, Cullinan & Associates Incorporated

Cruel, barbaric, macabre – all words used by Australian MPs about lion farming and the canned lion hunting industry in SA.  Our campaign was glad to be able to assist and participate in a full length documentary that aims to expose a brutal industry whose whole business model is routine, egregious cruelty to helpless animals – for fun.

Chris Mercer, Founder, CACH (Campaign Against Canned Hunting)

Captive lions have long been a blemish on South Africa’s wildlife and tourism landscape and their tragic story needed to be exposed before these practices negatively impacted on Brand South Africa. Congratulations to all involved in taking the time and making this happen.

Colin Bell, Tourism consultant and author of “Africa’s Finest”

“As a travel and conservation based organization, we find the “Blood Lions” documentary deeply disturbing. Despite being hard to watch, we urge people to get out there and see it. It is important to shed light on the dark and corrupt business of rearing lions for the purposes of hunting, in hopes of making a positive change. As we polled our membership, we found that individually each of our companies have chosen to stop booking all activities that contribute to this industry.”

The Safari Professionals – 30 Tour Operators based in the US and Canada

South Africa’s failure to address the canned hunting industry has emboldened those who make a living out of the death of lions bred, raised and slaughtered on a ‘no kill, no fee’ basis. The canned hunting industry is unnatural, unethical and unacceptable. It delivers compromised animal welfare and zero education. It undermines conservation and creates a moral vacuum now inhabited by the greed and grotesque self-importance of those who derive pleasure in the taking of life.

Blood Lions lays bare the truth behind the canned hunting industry that, far from contributing to the future survival of the species, may, in fact, accelerate extinction in the wild, leaving behind a trail  littered with rotting corpses of its helpless and hopeless victims.

Will Travers OBE, President Born Free Foundation

The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust, in providing support for the making of this Documentary, does so in the firm belief that it is important that the true facts behind captive lion breeding and canned lion hunting in South Africa, is brought to the attention of a global audience in order to create awareness which in turn will lead to much needed change.

Les Ward MBE, Chairman, The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust

This is a timely, courageous as well as a deeply disturbing documentary. It is at the same time, a voice for the wild and the voiceless … of saying “NO MORE!” to that terrible triad of financial opportunism, deceit and indifference to the non-human animal by those claiming to be conservationists.

Ian McCallum – Author, poet, psychiatrist and naturalist

With the constant pressure on wildlife, every effort must be made to keep our last vestiges of natural fauna and flora protected.    Canned hunting of any kind, along with the related consequences, must be condemned by humanity as not only a travesty of nature but also an utterly inhumane practise.   Taming lion cubs only to later hunt them is an utterly inhumane practice.   It is pseudo-hunting, a complete sham and does not even qualify as hunting on a sustainable use basis.   Wildlife conservation has to evolve into practices that are ethical, humanitarian and sustainable. This will not be achieved if there is not real and fair community involvement which has not been part of the hunting fraternity’s evolution.

Yvette Taylor, Executive Director, The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation

“Canned lion ‘hunting’ is nothing less than a bargain basement opportunity for foreign hunters to engage in one of South Africa’s most sordid practices. Hunting of captive bred lions entirely dependent on human fingerprints from cub to trophy is immoral, unethical and against all animal welfare concerns. The fact that it still continues as profitable commerce is a damning statement against all of us who have not properly engaged to snuff it out. Blood Lions is a good start to bring change.”

Dr Pieter Kat – Director: LionAid

Canned Lion