One woman with a great deal of tenacity about saving lions with her rescue efforts and photo safari business.
It was at the ‘meet and greet’ organized by Sheila where I first met Drew. She seemed so young and well, hip to be involved in wildlife conservation. She unassumingly told me about her photo safari business and that her primary focus was to raise awareness for wildlife, in particular lions. It wasn’t until later that I realize what a powerhouse for African Lions Drew really is.
She has literally become the go to person on Facebook when a wild lion is causing trouble with a local farmer’s prize cattle or a game rancher’s pricey antelope. I’ve watched as she’s jumped in got things done… and the elation that followed. In contrast, when despite her best efforts the animal is lost and I’ve felt her heart break. When most of us might be discouraged and give up, she keeps going and doing what she can for lions and other big cats.
Then when we were in Johannesburg again earlier this year, I knew I needed to sit down with her over a cup of tea (in my case glass of water) and get to know her and her work in more detail. And truly, to simply drink up some of her passion.
So where does someone get the passion to give so much to protect a species?
In Drew’s case from her parents. She told me, with a light laugh, that when she was but three weeks old her parents took her to the Kruger National Park, the first of regular trips to experience the wildlife. So it seemed natural while growing up that she and friends would walk barefoot through the bush to buy sweeties (candy) at the local shop. At age seven while on foot she was charged by an African Elephant which understandably traumatized her for many years. Actually it wasn’t that long ago she admits, casting her eyes down, that she really dealt with it and began understanding elephant behavior. Knowing when the flapping of the ears or the raising of the trunk was a warning mock charge or simply an attempt at cooling off. She recalls being exposed to rangers who had uncanny ways with lions, understanding them, almost talking to them. Like the night around a camp fire when one got up made some strange calls and within minutes bright orange coals were visible along the perimeter of the camp.
It was experiences like these that increased Drew’s fascination and love for lions. Plus she says, that lions appear to be in the most trouble of all the Big Cats as literally thousands are being bred for profit, for cub petting and the canned hunting industry. Not that the African Leopards and Cheetah don’t face their own demons she admits. [Read “Where have all the Cheetahs gone?”]
Drew is about rescuing both captive and wild lions. The former from breeders and certain death and the latter in cooperation with Marnus with Walking for Lions who intervenes when farmers are about to poison wild lions for killing their livestock.
Besides her rescue involvement Drew is the owner of the photography safari company Captured in Africa. This allows her to share her love of Africa’s beauties by inviting local and foreign photographers to join her or one of her team to her favorite place, the bush.
Sunny South Africa, where grapes grow abundantly, is famous for its wine tours, being ever innovative Drew is creating equally attractive Big Cat Tours. Her totally unique customized expeditions will introduce participants to amazing men and women who provide safe havens and protect some of South Africa’s most majestic Big Cats. Her goal is to have many more people fall in love with lions, leopards and cheetah so they’ll get involved in the much needed effort to protect them and their habitat.
Planning on going on an African photo safari?
Be sure to consider joining Drew and her team at Captured in Africa.
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