WHILE we enjoy the incredible remake of The Lion King and fall in love with these beautiful African animals all over again, in real life Mufasa, Simba and Nala are being trophy-hunted into near extinction.
The movie is an astonishing piece of film-making, breathtakingly beautiful, very funny and utterly heartbreaking.
It reminds us of the wonders of nature and the delicate balance of the circle of life. While watching I couldn’t, however, help but mourn the way the number of lions in the wild has been decimated.
Having visited Africa many times, I have been lucky to see lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and cheetahs.
I would like my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to do the same, but if so-called hunters continue to slaughter these magnificent creatures there simply won’t be any left.
Earlier this year we went camping on our own in the bush in Botswana, in Southern Africa, hiring a Jeep and sleeping in a tent on the roof.
Driving (very slowly) down a bumpy track, we spotted what looked like sandy rocks in the middle of the track. As we got closer, we saw it was a pride of lions, with tiny cubs, who were having a rest and soaking up some sunshine.
While they ignored us, we sat enthralled in the Jeep, watching them for hours and taking hundreds of photos. It was magical, a real privilege. So it baffles me why anyone would want to point a rifle at them and kill them.
Do they honestly feel big, bold and brave when the reality is that “canned” hunting is like shooting fish in a barrel.
The animals are corralled in a confined area. They cannot escape and are slaughtered by these pathetic cowards who must have have nothing but contempt for a living, sentient being.
And don’t get me started on those trophy photos. The stomach-churning images of grinning morons posing beside the still-warm carcass of a once-glorious animal are hideous.
Just this week, we saw photos of a shameful couple kissing the faces off each other beside the corpse of a lion they had just slaughtered. In what sort of world do they think cold-blooded murder is in any way a cue for a romantic smooch?
What the hell was going on in the minds of Darren and Carolyn Carter. from Canada, that they would pay £12,000 and fly thousands of miles to South Africa to kill a lion? Why should animals have their lives snuffed out because idiots want to take smug selfies?
I’m heartened that Darren’s teenage daughter Sydney has disowned him and his wife and condemned their cruelty. Horrified by their actions, she has vowed never to speak to her dad again and says he’s a “despicable person” and she’s “disgusted to call him her dad”.
Then who can forget ar*ehole Walter Palmer, a US dentist who shot Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe in 2015 with a bow and arrow. The poor animal did not die immediately, was instead badly injured and only died ten hours later when Palmer returned to fire another arrow. The pain Cecil experienced is unimaginable. But, hey, Palmer got his photo.
We should even the odds and drop these bastards into the middle of a pride of hungry lions, leaving the “bold hunters” with nothing but their pea-sized brains and bare hands, then see who would win that particular fight.
I support the campaign to end trophy-hunting and protect animals in the wild. They desperately need saving from the pretend hunters swanning around in air-conditioned SUVs and tracking their prey on GPS, with teams of staff setting up their shot just so they can have a trophy on the wall alongside a framed photo.
This is a battle we must win — and it begins at home. There are trophy-hunters in our midst and these people, with too much money and no soul, are allowed to import animal parts into the UK — including the severed heads of lions, elephants, cheetahs, hippos and zebras.
We are told Environment Secretary Michael Gove will be looking at evidence with a view to outlawing the practice of bringing such sick souvenirs to this country.
That will be a small step in the fight to save creatures in the wild, but we need to keep up the pressure or soon the only wild animals we will see will be the computer- generated ones in movies such as The Lion King.
Carry on shining, Amanda
AMANDA Barrie is delightfully kooky, hugely entertaining and, despite being 84 years old next month, is one of the youngest people I know.
She has the attitude, stamina and zest for life of a teenager and is a shining example of seizing the day and squeezing every last drop of fun from life.
Forget Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 movie, Amanda was THE most beautiful Cleopatra. With her shiny black bob and doe eyes in iconic film Carry On Cleo in 1964, she was just perfect.
We can currently enjoy watching her erratically steering a barge down the canals of England with a group of well- known folk including Michael Buerk and Anita Harris in Channel 5’s Celebrity 5 Go Barging.
It’s a hugely enjoyable romp and Amanda relished the challenge – proving that learning a new skill and making new friends is the key to staying young, interested and interesting.
Damian is the model of Liz
THE most beautiful-looking human being of the week has to be Liz Hurley’s young son Damian who is the spitting imagine of his mum, but with an even more perfect pout and more luxuriant hair.
At 17, he’s just landed a major modelling contract for a cosmetic company – and he’s clearly drop-dead gorgeous.
Liz has been criticised in the past for letting her mini-me son take pictures of her in skimpy bikinis, but that’s how she makes a crust.
At least Damian’s canny mum can guide him through the shark-infested waters of the fashion and beauty business – and console him now he has chosen one of the few careers where boys are paid far less than girls.
Veterans have my support
ALL credit to this newspaper’s splendid Never Forget Them campaign to help our military veterans. The Sun has vowed to battle injustices against veterans and introduce a minister for veterans into the Cabinet.
Already, Sir Rod Stewart and Judge Rob Rinder have backed the campaign, which aims to stop unfair historical prosecutions against British troops, including those who served in Northern Ireland, and to enshrine the Military Covenant into law so no veteran or their family face disadvantage for their service.
It’s reckoned that more than 83,000 men and women formerly in the Armed Forces are still suffering from physical or mental injuries sustained in conflicts over the last quarter century.
It’s very simple, we have a duty to help them – and this campaign is a way to effect change and say thank you to them for their service.
Melinda gives us all hope
MELINDA Gates is married to the world’s third-richest man and often defined by the fact Bill The Boss Of Microsoft is her other half. The truth is, this quietly spoken, modest but extremely intelligent woman is a powerhouse – and the driving force behind the Gates Foundation that has already saved well over a million lives.
I spoke to her this week and was impressed by her passion, work ethic and determination to make the world a better place, particularly for women. She’s written a book, The Moment Of Lift, about change and equality, which is sensible, down-to-earth and gives hope for the future.
Melinda is no rich man’s arm candy. She’s a determined woman with a purpose. Melinda and Bill’s foundation has given away billions of dollars in an attempt to eradicate malaria, to provide women with greater choice when it comes to contraception, and to improve the education of children stuck in poverty.
They have tried to live as normal a life as possible, doing the dishes after dinner and ensuring their children did not grow up with a sense of entitlement.
It’s a difficult balancing act but Melinda has managed it and will leave behind the legacy of the countless young women whose lives have been enriched by her generosity.
Inspire next generation
TONIGHT, look up at the Moon and remember that 50 years ago to the day, three of the bravest men ever born were up there.
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Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface, while Michael Collins orbited in the tiny vessel that would take them home. It’s a miracle they made it.
Neil had to land the lunar module himself when the computer failed and Buzz fixed a broken switch, crucial for the blast off, with a PEN.
I remember watching the historic TV coverage enthralled. I salute all those who made the landing possible, and dearly hope the renewed interest in space exploration will inspire the next generation to reach for the stars.
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