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Lord Michael Anthony P. Ashcroft, Baron Ashcroft, KCMG, PC is a British–Belizean businessman and politician. He is a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.
Above – Beautiful, Majestic Simba.
Simba’s sanctuary: Bred to be shot by trophy hunters, this magnificent lion was doomed until LORD ASHCROFT masterminded a dramatic rescue. Now, he has found a permanent home
Looking regal and majestic, he lay on a wooden platform with his proud head and golden mane held high.
He appeared to be back to his rightful position as the ‘king of the jungle’. It was a poignant and emotional moment for me: the first time that I had ever set eyes on Simba.
Six months earlier, my investigative team had rescued him from certain death in a hunting area on the edge of the Kalahari desert in South Africa.
Back in April, maltreated, malnourished, drugged and abused, he was destined to become someone’s trophy in a ‘canned hunt’: one in which the lion is shot in a severely enclosed space with no chance of escape.
Simba was saved by my undercover investigative team, including ex-Special Forces operatives, just hours before I made a series of revelations exclusively in The Mail on Sunday about the horrors of ‘lion farming’.
This practice involves thousands of captive-bred lions being killed either for the bone trade, mainly for the Far East market, or as hunting trophies, often for the US and European market.
A fully grown male lion with a large mane can command a price tag of more than £40,000.
Last week I travelled to a secret location in South Africa because Simba, after spending time in temporary lodgings, has finally been relocated to a new, spacious and permanent home.
All being well, Simba, who is believed to be about 11 years old, will live in peace and safety for the rest of his days.
The whereabouts of his new home must remain secret because, even now, those participating in the despicable lion farming industry could try to harm or kill him.
Before his rescue – Simba is shot and injured by a trophy hunter.
Unsurprisingly, Simba was described as ‘deeply traumatised’ immediately after his rescue. However, he should now live for another ten years, possibly longer, and, hopefully, time will prove to be a great healer.
One of his new carers, who asked not to be identified, told me: ‘He is a real gentleman. Even in the few weeks he has been with us, there has been a massive difference in his behaviour.
The moment Briton Miles Wakefield shoots Simba with a tranquilliser dart in a fenced-off enclosure
‘When he arrived, he was hiding and growling. Now, little by little, he is more confident and allows us to be within 30 feet of him.
‘The great thing is that lions forgive and dare to trust again, and to love unconditionally. This is where humans can learn from animals.
‘Lion farming, on the other hand, touches the darkest side of humanity: it is pure ego, pure money, pure greed.’
Simba now lives alone in a two-and-a-half-acre fenced enclosure where he is fed raw meat, including beef and chicken. He has a raised area where he can lie in the sun, but he also has shade from trees.
I have made a substantial donation to ensure that Simba will be well looked after for the rest of his life.
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A pathetically sad human trophy hunter can pay £40,000 to kill a fully grown male lion like Simba