During the Second World War, the U.S. War Department issued a ‘sole-survivor’ directive in an attempt to prevent families from losing all their sons, the premise on which the famous film, Saving Private Ryan, was based. In modern day Africa, another war is raging and brothers fall daily without reprieve. Lions once inhabited landscapes from Europe to the southern tip of Africa, and from West Africa all the way to India.
Today, that historical range has shrunk to just 8% of what it was and in the last quarter century, the already diminished populations have declined again by half. While the “soldiers of conservation” mount brave rescue operations for the species, the overall mission is complicated by the dynamics of the battlefield. For instance, in the case of relatively small, fenced reserves, like &Beyond Phinda, simulating the conditions required for lions – particularly male lions – to thrive, is perpetually challenging.