King of the jun­gle man­ages to hold his own in tug of roar

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Out Of Africa... And Off To The Local -

A foot­ball team and an African lion came face to face in a tug of war.

The Big Cat Sanc­tu­ary in Smar­den was the set­ting for the battle be­tween man and beast that was staged to raise aware­ness of World Lion Day, which is to­day (Thurs­day).

Young­sters from Foots Cray Li­ons Ju­nior Foot­ball Club faced an op­po­nent with a dif­fer­ence when they took on the king of the jun­gle in the shape of Kasanga the African lion on Mon­day.

A piece of meat was tied to a rope that was threaded through the fence of Kasanga’s en­clo­sure and when he took the meat be­tween his jaws, the boys be­gan pulling it away.

The Big Cat Sanc­tu­ary is an ed­u­ca­tion and breed­ing centre for en­dan­gered cats, big and small.

In the past two decades the pop­u­la­tion of wild African li­ons has dropped by more than 40% leav­ing an es­ti­mated 20,000-25,000 re­main­ing in the wild, with li­ons also listed as a vul­ner­a­ble species on the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture (IUCN) Red List in 2015.

Pri­vate big cat ex­pe­ri­ences are of­fered at the sanc­tu­ary to sup­port its work, help­ing to raise funds for projects in­clud­ing one to air­lift tem­po­rary res­i­dent Kasanga, orig­i­nally a cir­cus lion, to a new home in Uganda at the cost of £16,000.

The sanc­tu­ary’s work ex­tends to spon­sor­ing two li­ons at the Ol Pe­jeta Con­ser­vancy in Kenya to be fit­ted with ra­dio col­lars and spe­cialised track­ers to mon­i­tor them and find so­lu­tions to the chal­lenges they face in the wild.

Giles Clark, man­ag­ing di­rec- tor of The Big Cat Sanc­tu­ary, said that with­out con­ser­va­tion ef­forts, an Africa with­out li­ons could be the re­al­ity for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Tanith Brown, spokesman for the Big Cat Sanc­tu­ary said: “The tug of war was great fun as Kasanga is so pow­er­ful he used his sheer body weight to lean back- wards and hold onto the meat.

“Boys in the team ap­pre­ci­ated how huge and pow­er­ful a lion is and it was a good en­rich­ment ex­er­cise for Kasanga who has an awe­some per­son­al­ity.

“A truce was called and the game ended as it was din­ner time for Kasanga but ev­ery­one had great fun.”

Pic­tures: Paul Amos FM4878098

A truce was even­tu­ally called af­ter the tug of war

Pic­ture: Paul Amos FM4878096

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