Article by Dalene Ingham-Brown 14 January 2014

Wildlife to conserve for generations to come

On 3 May 2013, Cape Town saw the auction of thirty life-size lions auctioned, at Moyo restaurant, as part of the Pride of Cape Town, to raise funds for the Born Free Foundation, and a staggering R300,000 was reached. One of the main sponsors of the Born Free Foundation in South Africa is the Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape who were presented with the ‘People’s lion’ for the continued support of the foundation.

Star of the academy award-winning film ‘Born Free’ Virginia McKenna OBE, who co-founded the international wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation was in attendance, alongside a host of luminaries from the worlds of business, media and art.

This unique major public arts initiative was created to remind the public that the magnificent lion is gravely under threat in Africa.

The 150 invited guests were all there to show their support by bidding for their favourite lion and raising vital funds for the Born Free Foundation to help conserve and protect wild lions - and the kind-hearted philanthropic audience did not disappoint.

Virginia McKenna opened the proceedings informing guests that, “Lions are disappearing from Africa. This is fact not fiction. Born Free's symbol has become a victim of man’s insatiable greed and selfish desire to control.”

A rousing video message especially recorded by Queen legend, Brian May, further added to proceedings, encouraging the guests to whole-heartedly support this worthwhile and important cause, saying, 

“It’s a global thing; Virginia McKenna has really started a complete wave of change in the world. We will, in the future, regard animals in a completely different light, as worthy to share this planet with us on an equal basis. This auction is very important because it will ensure the life, the continued life of lions in Africa.”

Brian May and singing sensation Kerry Ellis had previously flown in to Cape Town last year to launch the project.

The lion sculptures which have now become works of art, had been on display at the V&A Waterfront in order to create awareness.

There was an air of excitement and anticipation as South African celebrity Alan Ford, led the audience through each lion lot at the auction.

There were a number of star attractions of the night, with talented artist Maria Brink's stunning broken glass design 'Blood Diamonds' going for R30,000 and 'Grand Mr Bones', with his gold pelage and ceremonial crown reaching R25,000. Other lots were well favoured too, from Coca-Cola's 'Buddy' to the lion 'Mars' with his glorious mane of pencils designed by Mark Malherbe.

As the project concluded, a delighted Virginia thanked the guests for their generous support,

“Last night’s Pride of Cape Town auction at the marvellous Moyo restaurant, gave us huge encouragement. I feel so grateful to the people of Cape Town and to everyone that understands that a world without the King of the Jungle would be a sad world indeed and a shameful legacy to leave future generations.”

Sponsors include: Staedtler, Moyo, Land Rover, Chitwa Chitwa, Red Bush Tea, CP Construction, Lions Club International, Coca-Cola, KFM, Novartis, SAA, Grand Café & Beach, Shamwari Group, Mantis Collection, African Inspiration, Laugh it Off, V&A Waterfront, The Parlotones, Phoenix Mercury Trust, Kenya Airways and 5FM.

Pride of Cape Town was presented in partnership with Wild in Art and Shamwari Group and is kindly supported by the V&A Waterfront and with thanks to Hamilton Russell wines for their generosity.

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