A Lion's Tale - the movie
2016 is The Year of the Lion that will honour the 50th anniversary of the film Born Free. A story of true determination, passion, love and drama- it is one of the most successful stories ever told all. This film will be presented by Virginia McKenna, the actress turned wildlife activist as she tells us about her journey to protect the lions of East Africa and introduces us to the team of rangers currently working in Elsa's heartland, Meru National Park. Led by the charismatic Victor Mutumah (Game warden of the Kenya Wildlife Service), we see first-hand how the threat to lions has never been so pressing.
Their numbers have declined by 90% since the making of the film, and the recent lion census has revealed that in Meru poisoning, snaring and hunting is threatening the last remaining populations of the original lions raised by George Adamson. As the team search for answers across the dramatic landscape, it ultimately leads them to the local Borana people whose livelihoods are equally at risk from these majestic predators.
Despite being at the peak of her career the film and all it still stands for changed her life...It’s powerful message stayed with her after the film.
And so she gave up Hollywood and began a lifetime of campaigning across the world to save animals from commercial exploitation, imprisonment, cruelty and the loss of their natural habitat focusing relentlessly on her personal mission with the Born Free Foundation
Without urgent action, lions could become extinct in the wild within our life time- and currently there are less lions than rhino in the wild…
Can the team help convince the new generation of Borana of the value of lion? Will they change from hunters to conservationists? Will Virginia's lion legacy be felt in the true heartland where it matters most?
In the beginning we meet Virginia McKenna, actress turn conservationist as she introduces us to the Born Free film she was involved with, and shares the impact it had on her. Through a series of interviews and cut aways to archive of the Born Free Film, we gain an insight into why lions are important to her, her relationship with them and what the Foundation is doing as part of their campaign to halter their startling decline….
We then journey to the homeland of Elsa the lioness and the heartland of Joy Adamson- Meru National Park. Virginia’s voice guides us though a remarkable raw landscape in the foothills of Mt Kenya with its herds of zebra and elephants, it is home to the descendants of the original lions from the film. Here we meet Victor Mutumah of the Kenya wildlife Service and the rangers who fight tirelessly against poachers and bandits.
The reality of what’s causing the lions decline is revealed in the field- as the rangers track down snares and uncover the dismantled body of a female lion- poisoned by a local cattle farmer from the Borana tribe. As human populations encroach further into lion territory this often leads to human-wildlife conflicts and a fragile relationship between lions and locals. Is conservation on the agenda amongst the local people? An interview with a chief elder from the Borana tribe gives us an insight into where this stems from, and what was really thought about Joy Adamson- a conservationists who failed to include people as part of the solution. What does Born Free and the KWS need to do to change their views in on one of the last strongholds of lions in Kenya before its too late?
Tania Rose Esteban