Last year Evan and I made a concerted effort to raise AWARENESS about the declining numbers of the Big Cats around the world, and specifically to share our Africa experiences and Evan’s photography with others who might also be inspired to take up the cause. We thought we needed to get through to a younger generation who would want to wake up their peers, their parents and the WORLD, so we spoke to Fairfield University students and faculty and then we spoke at the Pequot Library in Southport, CT and finally the Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA. Evan also arranged to speak at some of the local Fairfield County, CT Rotary Clubs. The response from every group was (a) shock, that these Big Cats could potentially face extinction in the near term and (b) varied levels of interest in wanting to make a difference. We really pushed to have as many people sign a petition that was being circulated by multiple wildlife groups to put the Lion on the Endangered Species List in the United States – this would prevent the importing of Lion trophies by hunters as well as any sort of “lion part”. Most everyone was very willing to sign this petition which was forwarded to the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. We felt good about what we were doing at the time but the ultimate conclusion we came to is that Awareness is just the FIRST step. What we ultimately needed to accomplish was to truly ENROLL others in our passion and the need for change. Awareness is great, but Awareness without Funding, only goes so far.Sooooo, we worked tenaciously all summer and on the evening of September 18 (which is just hours from now) we will hold our first fundraising event for the Big Cats Initiative which funds on the ground initiatives in Africa. I’ll let you know how it all turns out. The fundraising is an experience unto itself.
The picture of the cubs was taken by my photographer husband, Evan Schiller at a camp called Duba Plains in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. We woke up to a pelting rain. Our guide, Solomon, asked if we were still up for going out on the morning game drive. The answer was a resounding YES! We were rewarded with the special treat of getting to spend the morning watching a mother lioness and her three young cubs (about four months old). Here the two young cubs are caught in the midst of a big brotherly “hug”.