The South African 'Lion Whisperer' working to protect predators
A self-taught animal behaviorist has broken every safety rule while working with wild animals at a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa.
Kevin Richardson, also known as The Lion Whisperer, works with African lions and other predators including hyenas and black leopards.
Lions are apex predators in South Africa. /VCG Photo

Lions are apex predators in South Africa. /VCG Photo

"For me, the difficulty of being with these apex predators is knowing what's happening to their cousins in captivity and the wild. So, I look at the lions in my care and I know that they live in a safe haven and they generally all live good lives and they are fulfilled and enriched. You will be able to see that by just walking around the sanctuary and the excitement they have for when they hear your voice or your call or see you," said Richardson.
Richardson is the owner of the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary's mission is to provide a self-sustaining African carnivore sanctuary for the purpose of wild species preservation.
A black leopard. /VCG Photo

A black leopard. /VCG Photo

The sanctuary houses 26 lions, 12 spotted hyenas, two striped hyenas, and four black leopards.
One would be forgiven to fear these beasts, but not Richardson. Instead, he considers them as family members.
"Yes, there is truth in the fact that you always need to bear in mind that they are apex predators and they have instincts. But over the years working with them, you learn to work with their instincts," said Richardson. 
A spotted hyena of South Africa. /VCG Photo

A spotted hyena of South Africa. /VCG Photo

Richardson's mission is to bring awareness to the rapid decline of large carnivores in Africa. Their dwindling numbers are due to habitat loss, human-predator conflict, illegal bushmeat trade, unscrupulous hunting, disease, and illegal trade.
Richardson's unique relationship with some of Africa's top predators has opened many doors for him and have captivated the imagination of many people throughout the world.
(Cover image via VCG)
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