Good Morning Angels Extra: Five lions take their first steps to freedom on African soil

Good Morning Angels Extra: Five lions take their first steps to freedom on African soil

Five lion cubs that were stranded in the snow in Ukraine, came home to South Africa. 

Good Morning Angels
Jacaranda FM

BACKGROUND: South African born animal rights activist, Lionel de Lange has been fighting for and freeing wild animals in captivity in Ukraine for the past six years. He is known as the “Wildlife Warrior”: standing seven feet tall in his boots, taking on the rich, the powerful and whoever else to free wild animals from cruel captivity and releasing them to freedom. Lionel has made many enemies along the way, but many more friends as he throws everything at the fight against animal cruelty. 

At the moment, Lionel is particularly worried about the safety of five young lions, born and bred in captivity in Ukraine, a country where rare and wild animal possession is seen by the ignorant as a status symbol. Two of these lions were destined for canned hunting. Often, animals like lions and other big cats, are bought by the rich and powerful as exotic pets, but when the cute furry little lion cub grows into the majestic animal it is meant to be, it becomes too big and scary to handle and they often end up in tiny cages with concrete floors.

Lionel managed to take legal possession of the five young lions and he is keeping them in a specially built enclosure. He is however worried that the five African cats will not survive the freezing cold Ukrainian winter that is setting in, with the first snow expected to fall soon.

Lionel has made arrangements in South Africa for a forever home for the five lions at a wildlife sanctuary in the North West. He has all CITES, import and export permits sorted, a vet is on stand-by and he has booked a flight for the five lions in the cargo hold of a commercial flight to Johannesburg, departing from Kiev on 10 December. This flight, however, comes at a cost of R126 000,00 and the promise of a donation failed to materialise. Now its a race against time to get the funds to bring the five lions home for Christmas.

Good Morning Angels Cubs

REQUEST FROM: André Groenewald, South African Ambassador to Ukraine 

REQUEST FOR: Lionel de Lange, South African Wildlife Activist on behalf of five young lions, stranded in the Ukraine after being rescued from abusive, cruel captivity

ANGEL: Craig Roberts, Managing Director of Mazda Southern Africa and Chairman of the Mazda Foundation Southern Africa

SPONSORING: The Mazda Foundation Southern Africa, will sponsor the R126 000,00 needed to pay for the flight costs, to bring the five lions home to OR Tambo International from Kiev!


Dear Dianne,

Thank you very much for taking the time to discuss the Lions Project in Ukraine with me yesterday.

We are hoping that Jacaranda FM and Good Morning Angels would be in a position to support the project.  Moreover to tell this unique and positive South African story and the work and contributions South Africans are making. For too long the news about lions has been dismal and depressing. This project brings the hope of what good people (like Lionel de Lange and his team) are doing. 

From an Embassy perspective, we are happy to be associated with good projects where South Africans are involved. It also provides us with opportunities to develop bilateral and people-to-people relations between South Africa and Ukraine.

Please find attached the contact details of Mr Lionel de Lange who will be in a much better position to answer some of the more detailed and technical questions regarding logistics and transporting lions across international borders.

Should the Jacaranda team consider visiting Ukraine to follow the story, we will be happy to host you.

Best regards,

André J Groenewald

Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to Ukraine


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