In my early 20s I was living the high life in Paris as a model – champagne and parties – but it felt empty. I would visit home in South Africa yearly just to get back to nature and see old friends.

My life-changing experience began on a moonless night in November 1991, in the middle of the African wilderness. A group of us were surrounded by an angry pride of lions, but were rescued by the extraordinary courageous intervention of an indigenous medicine woman, who walked through this pride of some 24 lions, on foot, in the pitch dark, carrying a baby on her back to come to our aid. After this awesome life-threatening experience, this remarkable woman became my teacher. I gave up the London advertising and fashion world I had been in for over a decade, and returned to Africa, to study with Maria Khosa, the most amazing woman I have ever met.

She told me I had a life-long commitment to protect the White Lions, and that I was to be her successor.

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Her teachings of nature and its workings were more profound and meaningful than anything I had learned in my years of Cambridge academia. In studying with her and other indigenous African elders, I learnt that word “Timbavati” means in the ancient Tsonga language: the place where the Starlions came down, and the legendary White Lions who are endemic to this region, are believed to be “the holiest animals on the African continent”. The widely-held belief that the White Lions are “Star Beasts” has a deep basis in truth. I spent more than 10 years studying with these elders, and discovered that a profound mystery exists behind the White Lions’ return to earth, which directly links to mysteries of Ancient Egypt. It is no coincide that African kings identify themselves with lions, and believe they will ascend to the stars upon death. This is the same belief that was held by the pharaohs. You’ll even find this belief echoed in the Disney animation of the Lion King, where the orphaned cub, Simba, looks up into the stars and sees the spirit of his departed father shining down on him. In my work with the lion shamans and the last surviving White Lions themselves, I discovered that these are beings of pure light, emissaries who’s purpose is to re-awaken heart-centred leadership in humanity. They are shining beacons of beauty, a reminder that God still exists in Nature.

The unconditional love that they radiate is overwhelming, Christlike.

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Unfortunately, I also discovered that for the past 5 decades these magnificent beasts have been forcibly removed from their natural birthplace, and sold to zoos and circuses all over the world. Worst still, they have been held captive in trophy hunting camps for brutal killing, a malpractice known as “Canned Lion Hunting”.

Tragically, the present status is that these rare animals are not protected by any law, regionally, nationally or internationally, and may be shot in enclosures as high-income earning trophies or hunted in the wild.

In the face of these atrocities, I founded the Global White Lion Protection Trust in 2002 in order to protect the White Lions and re-establish these rare animals in their natural distribution range, in the way they once occurred naturally and in strict accordance with current scientific methods. I came up against opposition from powerful opponents with vested interests in international trophy hunting syndicates, but I managed to summon an ever-increasing wave of public support, which ultimately helped me secure large strategic tracks of land in the heart of the White Lions’ ancestral homelands. This land has been identified by African elders as a sacred site. It is no coincidence that it aligns exactly with Giza in the North, the site of humankind’s greatest lion riddle, the Sphinx.

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It is now a protected area, but beyond it’s borders White Lions can still be trophy hunted, and less than 10 survive in the wild.

My project has faced many trials, and seen many triumphs. This year, our scientific team lead by Jason, collaborating with geneticists from 7 different countries including the UK, Canada, United States and Korea, had an incredible break-through discovery. White Lions are not albinos, but the result of a unique genetic trait. After 7 years of collaborative genetic research “searching for a needle in a haystack”, we cracked the “Genetic Marker”- the key to the genetic code that proves this rare animal is genetically unique. Using this scientific evidence, our organization can continue to lead the campaign to have these genetic rarities declared a “protected sub-species” according to international legislation (CITES and IUCN RED DATA LISTING).

Our project is not only a conservation project; we spend at least half of our time working with humans. It is clear that the only way we as a species can save our planet is by cleaning up our own man-made mess. In order to redress some of the damage, our organization has established an “eco-cubs” program for indigenous children in our remote rural area, and White Lion Leadership Academy for adults, who are selected from applicants from around the world.

Through our outreach programs, the Global White Lion Protection Trust has started to address poverty alleviation in the low-income regions neighboring White Lions ancestral wilderness lands where there is up to 60%orphan rate, and created a generation of principled nature-loving people within the local communities bordering this wildlife area, who will become the stewards of this White Lion heritage, such that poaching and hunting will be prohibited, and malpractices policed by the ethical community itself.

The angelic White Lions are helping to uplift an impoverished community; they are a charismatic symbol of Hope, Courage, Unity, Prosperity and all that is good and godlike in nature.

For me, the spiritual knowledge behind the White Lions as “Star Lions” and enlightenment bearers is critical, but it’s only half the story. My purpose is to save the White Lions; but their purpose is to save humanity, at a time of ecological, psychological and economic crisis on earth.

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At this critical turning point in evolutionary history, it is simply not good enough to be wafty and “New Age”. At a time when species are going extinct, and the ice-caps are melting, these angelic animals are demanding ofus that we take meaningful action, and make a significant difference. Each of us has an ability to be effective in our own right, if we follow our Lionhearts, and are brave enough to stand up for our own truth. I truly believe that. That is the White Lions’ message. But in order to do so, you have to take responsibility, and step into your true purpose.

That is what the White Lion Leadership Academy is offering, a program that equips people to become effective agents of positive change.

What with most of the world’s big cats poised for extinction, it’s not often today that conservation delivers good news. But I can honestly say: all the blood, sweat and tears are worth every moment. Only if we as individuals are prepared to step-up and take responsibility, can we help birth the prophesized Golden Age, which the White Lions are forecasting for humanity’s collective destiny.

Linda Tucker’s Mystery of the White Lions: Children of the Sun God (Hay House 2011) is the result of ten years of study with African elders. It tells of the profound myths and legends of these animals, regarded as the most sacred animals on the African continent, and explains the importance of these prophetic animals for our current times of crisis

Linda Tucker’s Saving the White Lions (North Atlantic 2013) is the astounding first-hand account of Linda’s own life-story with the White Lions, revealing the overwhelming love that has driven her every action to save these magnificent beasts, against formidable odds.

Background on Linda Tucker – Renowned conservationist and author, Linda Tucker, has dedicated the past two decades of her life to the urgent protection of the White Lions, a unique breed of snow-white lions, born in one place only on earth – Timbavati, at the heart of South Africa’s Kruger-to-Canyons Biosphere.

Coming from fashion and advertising background in Europe, Linda Tucker’s life was changed forever in 1991 in the wilds of this bushveld region, when she was rescued from a pride of angry lions by a traditional medicine woman known as Lion Queen of Timbavati. This extraordinary Tsonga woman was one of the last surviving practitioners of the ancient art of living with wild lion prides, and she shared her shamanic techniques with Linda, ultimately handing over the ancient title of “Keeper of the White Lions”.

Linda Tucker went on to found a non-profit organization called the Global White Lion Protection Trust, now a leader in community-based conservation.  She is invited guest speaker at international conservation congresses, and her work has been featured in documentaries produced by National Geographic, CBS and Animal Planet. Her organisation’s HQ is situated in the African bushveld, where she lives with her partner, lion ecologist Jason A.Turner, together with the White Lion prides they have reintroduced into the wild. For more info: www.whitelions.org