Hakuna Mipaka Dean Lions

Strange Lion and Tiger sanctuaries of the world!

I came across a few strange approaches to Wildlife conservation, especially Lion and Tiger conservation. Out of them, the Hakuna Mipaka Oasis seems promising. However, the wildlife sanctuary remains the best option.

1. Infamous Tiger Temples of Thailand

Some monks founded the Tiger Temple or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno in 1994 as a forest temple and sanctuary for wild animals. However, this all initially started with treating an injured animal. The original purpose of the park cum monastery was to help those in need, but, later converted into a Tiger temple for tourists.

A monk walking with the Tigers
A monk walking with Tigers
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Is Tiger temple still open?

In 2016, it had 130+ Tigers, but after several complaints about the sedation of tigers, storing of frozen dead tiger cubs, etc. authorities raided it in 2016 and closed this temple. They rescued the Tigers, but half of them died according to BBC News.

Other Tiger farms and Temples

But, perhaps the earlier success of this Tiger temple model made it a wide spread business in Thailand. According to BBC news reports of 2019, around 2,000 tigers were in captivity in Thailand. The worst thing is that a large number of these Tigers are in the Tiger breeding farms. The Tiger temples are just a showcase of these infamous Tiger farms.

Proximity with the Tigers

People want proximity with the Tigers and these temples encash this tourist’s desire. The visitors have to pay extra dollars for every close moment with the Tiger. Lying with the big beast, petting it on the back, taking it for a walk by holding its leash everything is payable.

The temple staff takes the Tiger for walk by their leash. Visitors can also hold the leash and walk with the tiger. This all is fine, but I have a different perspective.

Tigers who have never tasted blood!

My concern is that these Tigers in such breeding farms and temples do not hunt for themselves. The temple administration feeds them boiled Chicken, etc. Many people coming to such temples think that the meditative energies of the temple and monks convert the wild tigers into peaceful and non-violent creatures. While it is not so, these tigers are not eating grass.

They still eat meat, but can’t prey for themselves. In the original Tiger temple mentioned above, the Tigers had never tasted blood! This had been done to keep their killing instincts in control or to say not allow the killing instinct to arouse.

Destroying an entire breed of Tigers

Not allowing the Tigers to prey and feeding them on boiled chicken is like destroying an entire breed of Tigers. They or their children may never learn to prey in the wild or live on their own. They will start assuming humans as their natural feeders. The whole ecosystem is co-dependent, and destroying the Tigers breed will affect the whole ecosystem in the long run.

Visitor in Tiger temple
Visitor with a Tiger
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Due to decades of rampant poaching, six countries—Thailand, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, and Vietnam—are now home to only around 350 tigers. Thai poachers can get up to $6000 for killing a tiger. I understand the severity of this problem. But, another alarming fact is that these countries jointly house around 7000-8000 Tigers in captivity.

But, this type of taming and showcasing the Tiger can never be a solution to Tiger’s illegal trade, poaching, and other such issues. All this is like converting these beautiful, dangerous, and powerful hunters into pet dogs or even worst. Tigers, either chained or free in their enclosures, may be alive and safe from poachers, but this life is no life for a Tiger.

2. Hakuna Mipaka Oasis

Dean Schneider’s Hakuna Mipaka Oasis presents another strange solution for Lion and other wildlife conservation. The Oasis is spread over 400 Hectares  (four million square meters) in the wilderness of South Africa! It’s better than the Tiger temple concept, but still missing the basic thing, the hunting.   

It’s really surprising to see how this Youngman (30) shifted from Switzerland to South Africa, developed a huge conservation park, and lives with the Lion pride and other animals as a pack member! The oasis also serves as a life-long home to a few rescued wild animals, which were born in captivity.

Hakuna Mipaka
Hakuna Mipaka Oasis
Image Credit: Dean Schneider’s YouTube channel

He amazingly has learned their body language, different types of sounds, and other communication methods, by living with them. He fearlessly lives with the lions and other predators. The lions eat the dead animals, with their faces in a puddle of blood, in front of him!

However, he clearly knows that if he enters another wildlife sanctuary, then he can understand the body language of other lions in the wild, but his chances of survival in front of them are minimal.

This is because all these animals in the Oasis were brought here as little puppies and have been raised by Schneider and his team in the Oasis. So, a bonding has developed between them.

Lions feed on the dead animals of the Oasis

But, still again the same problem when it comes to feeding of Lions. They have a lot of other animals in their Oasis, but in a separate area. Whenever an animal dies in that other area, Lions and hyenas feed on its body. However, if no animal’s body is avialable on time, then they choose an animal which is about to die and shoot it and thus feed the predators.

However, he understands the problem very well and plans to expand the park and give the predators a natural wild atmosphere. So that they can hunt and learn to survive on their own. But, this will take time as first the number of herbivores and other natural prey must increase to a certain level, otherwise the big cats and hyenas will clean the oasis in a few days 🙂

This project is way better than Tiger temple type project, but still everything depends on a single person. If anything happens to Schneider or somehow it comes into legal problems at any stage, these lions and other animals can’t survive in the wild.

They can’t face other wild Lions and will approach nearby human establishments for love and food and it will create big problems. So, either they will be shot (as Schneider knows himself) or the zoo will be their final destination. So from one captivity to another, even the next generation will find it difficult to prey because their parents couldn’t teach them the skills.

Where is Hakuna Mipaka located?

It is situated in South Africa, but it’s a private sanctuary for animals and is like a home to Dean Schneider. Tourists are not allowed to visit this place. This Oasis runs on either his own or his family’s money and with donations. My good wishes are with him. Let’s see how this experiment goes.

3. Taigan Lion safari park

Can you imagine that you are going on a jungle safari & a lion comes running and jumps into your open vehicle to cuddle you with love? Yes, it may happen in Taigan Lion safari park.

Taigan Lion safari
Taigan Lion safari
Image Credit: Eco-tourism.expert

Taigan Safari Park is situated in Crimea, now in Russia. Here the lions come running to the tourists vehicles and even jump into their open vehicles. Then they offer cuddles like a cat, nuzzling and licking them. The lions at the safari park are known to be friendly with humans.

Mr. Zubkov, a business entrepreneur and the park owner, encouraged an up-close-and-personal experience with the big cats. He purchased this abandoned Soviet military base in 2006 and developed this as a large breeding ground for lions and other predator animals on over 90 acres of land.

There are more than 50 lions at the safari park, which makes it the biggest lion park in Europe. Approximately 1,500 other animals and birds also reside there, including tigers.

A Lion cuddling a visitor
A Lion cuddling a visitor inside the vehicle
Image Credit: dnaindia

Lion attack incidents

However, the problem struck in 2018 when a lion bit a woman. But, the park authorities say that she was drunk and tried to ruffle the lion’s mane. Whatever the reason, the park came under legal scanner and was closed for a long time.

Further, in September 2021, one of his tigers bit off the finger of a 1-year-old boy. The Crimean court convicted Zubkov of negligence in July 2022 and sentenced him for over 2 years. Zubkov served three months in prison, but later released on parole in October 2022.

Is Tiagon Lion Safari open?

However, the park remained closed after the first incident for around 6 months but later opened. Further, during his detention after the second incident, it remained open. As of 2023, Zubkov is currently based at Taigan as the managing director.

However, much clarity about the feeding of big cats of this park is not available. But, during the crisis period in the past few years, many times the news of food shortage for lions, and funds shortage surfaced.

It clearly shows that Lions and other predators do not prey themselves. They are totally dependent on the park authorities for food. So, again this model, is not a good one for the future of the wild animals.

Human-wild animal interactions may be risky

Lions and other wild animals, especially these powerful big cats are always unpredictable. In an interview with BBC about an unrelated zoo, naturalist Claudio Bertonatti said there were two main reasons why being close to a wild animal is risky. First, there is a risk of diseases being transmitted from visitors to animals, or vice versa and secondly visitor’s safety is also at risk.

4. Monitored Wildlife Sanctuaries – The best solution

As per my observation and understanding, wildlife sanctuaries are the best solutions for big cats and other wildlife conservation. However, in the wildlife sanctuary, when their numbers increase beyond the sanctuary’s capacity, they start coming out of the reserved area and attacking the humans and their cattle, being easy prey.

Lion in a Wildlife safari
Wildlife safari
Image Credit: ghanamma.com

In some areas, this problem is really becoming big, so their population needs to be in check. Their number should not be allowed to increase beyond the capacity of the sanctuary. Either, they should be transferred to other reserves or castrated.

You may like – Giving love or getting love from your Pets.

So, problems are in every solution. But, I feel that sanctuaries with sufficient staff and supervision is still the best Wildlife conservation solution. What’s your opinion on this matter? Feel free to share in the comments.

  • References: https://timeless121.blogspot.com/ (my old blog)
  • Featured Image Credit: Dean Schneider’s YouTube channel
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/
  • https://eco-tourism.expert/en/news/taigan-lion-safari-park-reopens-in-crimea
  • Tiger conservation, Lion conservation, Wildlife conservation center.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top