In 2010 I came across an intriguing article about some rare white lions in South Africa. I was immediately mesmerized by their story. It triggered something deep inside me; I simply had an instant longing to meet them.
To Timbavati – the white lions
A chain of coincidences came my way and one synchronicity led to another. Soon after, I found myself travelling to Timbavati in South Africa – the only habitat in the world where these white majestic beings naturally belong. I had rented out my apartment in Oslo and was ready to sign up as a volunteer for the White Lion Protection Trust (WLPT), led by South African Linda Tucker. The organization works to protect and re-introduce captive white lions back into their natural habitat. More than 500 are held in captivity worldwide and less than 13 roam free. WLPT do scientific studies and work towards closing leigislative loopholes that allow these animals to be exploited, trophy hunted and treated as commodities.
A sense of coming home
Coming to Timbavati was in many ways so familiar to me. It puzzled me, because throughout my life I had never really felt at home anywhere. Being here instantly gave me this deep sense of belonging.
When I met the lions for the first time, I cried so much. I had no idea why, and to this day I still often cry when I meet them. Looking into their eyes was like looking into an endless sea of unconditional love and wisdom. The feeling of being unworthy of love that so many of us carry with us, seized to exist in their presence. In my own life, I have often felt disconnected and unworthy. Now the lions showed me glimpses of another kind of existence.
One of the tasks of being a volunteer in Timbavati was monitoring how the lions were surviving in the wild. Every morning at dawn and every evening at sunset we went out to track them. This way we knew if they had hunted prey to feed themselves.
It is a common belief that hunting, and therefor survival, is difficult for these animals in the wild, presuming they lack camouflage being white. This has been proved to be wrong.
The daily encounters with the lions are among the most precious moments in my life. Their pure presence was so powerful. It was both soothing and uplifting to be near them. Sometimes they would come so close to the vehicle I could almost touch them. Every day was different. Sometimes I felt empowered, sometimes tearful and sometimes so joyful I almost couldn’t contain it. But in essence, all these meetings made me feel so vibrantly alive in a way that I had never felt before. It was as though the lions through their presence were showing me how it felt to be truly alive.
What was it with these lions? Were they carriers of something unique that was different to other animals?
I soon came to learn that I was not the only one who experienced these lions to be extraordinary. The people believe the white lions are the most sacred beings in the world. Timbavati means “the place where the star lions descended from heaven”. The local Shangaan tribe says the lions carry their ancestors´ spirit. Therefor, they must be protected as if they were their own flesh and blood. If you harm the lions, you harm the country.
It is also believed that the white lions are carriers of a higher consciousness. By being on earth, they are vortexes of energy that help restore the balance of earth.
According to indigenous people all over the world, old prophecies have long predicted the return of the lions. Being almost extinct in 1992, they are now coming back. They are white to catch our attention and they come with both warnings and blessings to humanity. Humans must stop exploiting the earth, or it will be too late. But they also come with messages of peace and purity, reminding humanity that now is the time to connect to our hearts and practice feminine leadership.
The magic of true encounters
Being close to the lions over a period of time was truly one of the most amazing times of my life. Their pure presence radiates so much wisdom and unconditional love, gradually revealing to me that I am also that. Experiencing this has given me more and more courage to step into my purpose, daring to do what I came here to do.
And curiously enough, part of my mission seems to be to bring people to South Africa so that they can connect to these lions and maybe come one step closer to their own purpose in life?
I am eternally grateful for how the white lions have showed me, and continuously show me, what it means to be truly alive.
When we live out our full potential, we encourage others to do the same. In doing this, we can serve the world from a better place within. The animals are here to help and support us doing this – and we are here to help and support them.
In unity there is strength.
Elisabet Slang is a meditation teacher, nature connection- and travel guide. Her lifelong passion for nature has led to extended travelling around the world. She has had several renowned nature mentors, such as Jon Young at 8 shields in US.
Her passion is to raise awareness and inspire people through close encounters with nature and animals.