Tuesday, 24 May 2016


A poem ...


Forget for one moment,
The sweet aroma of the wallflower,
Permeating the senses,
Its colour deep and rich,
Grown from the seed of grief and despair.
The wall has risen,
And anxiety has a grasp,
Hanging on by a thread,
Don't let it snap,
The lingering dread,
Sucked in to the void.
Forget for one moment,
music perfusing the wind,
Drifting off to an anachronistic place,
Once visited - once happy,
To a compelling heartbeat,
A distant land - once trodden.
Now is still,
A discerning mind,
Weeps to cherish,
Struggles to clarify,
And forgets for one moment.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Stop The Lion Trophy Hunting...

Last Saturday, 30th April, I joined hundreds of people and marched through central London to Downing Street, where a letter, signed by high profile celebrities such as Stephen Hawking, was handed in to David Cameron to put a ban on the importing of lion trophies in to the U.K. The banners and posters were vibrant and the lion warriors sent out a strong message to London and the world showing immense passion and a caring side which was a far cry from those so called hunters, or should I say killers. Our voices cried out, "Ban trophy hunting... save our lions!" The vibrations resonated and projected  powerful voices for the majestic cats. Moving speeches were made, and  hearts were warmed by the presence of Virginia McKenna, who has inspired many of us with the film she starred in, 'Born Free'. Furthermore, Virginia and her late husband founded the Born Free Foundation.... keeping wild animals in the wild.  
 Trophy hunting is big business in Africa and has contributed to a staggering decline in numbers of wild lions. The iconic cats have faced habitat loss, loss of natural prey which is largely due to poaching and bushmeat demand and increased conflict with people and their livestock. The number of African lions has fallen from more than half a million to less than 20,000 in just a few decades so there is no justification for the continued hunting of wild lions.Trophy hunting is unethical but has long been regarded as an effective conservation practice. I cannot understand why, as it has a negative impact on wild populations and is closely linked with poaching. The most targeted species are elephants, rhinoceroses, leopards, cheetahs and of course, lions. Trophy hunting fuels corruption, encourages unfair wealth distribution and causes the loss of healthy individual animals which are essential for reproduction and social unity. Why do they hunt? It is all about ego and wealth - that is all. They take the head of the animal home and hang it on their wall and the body parts are sold on for immoral profit. Trophy hunting has nothing to do with conservation, survival or bravery. The animals are shot with a rifle, sometimes at close range, causing unthinkable suffering as they avoid the head and in some cases need to shoot three or four times before the animal is down. This is not a sport it is a selfish hobby for those who can afford it. I have seen footage of lions being killed and they feel the pain. They cry out as the hind flips out and the animal attempts to escape its unnatural and horrific death. 
 Trophy hunting belongs to a bygone age, there is no place in the modern world for it. Many well known species are in decline and could become extinct within the next few decades or less. I will never understand the thinking behind the killing of these magnificent animals. The ecological tapestry of Africa is changing and changing fast. But what would Africa be without her animals? They are Africa. They shape the land and enhance our lives. The animals are our natural heritage and must be protected. They are worth far more alive, as millions of tourists flock to Africa purely to see the animals and to cherish the moments spent with them. Ecotourism is the way forward. I, myself, had an unprecedented trip to Africa, fourteen years a go, and I have never forgotten the feelings of wonderment which penetrated my soul. Nothing has ever touched me in the same way - long since. To be free is the greatest gift on earth. 
 Lions are essential carnivores, our earth needs them. They have, in the words of Virginia Mckenna, an untamed spirit. Moreover, they are the absolute essence of Africa. 

Virginia McKenna

"I'm Not Your Trophy"

Lion warrior

Lion's head

Lion Warriors

"We Are not Your Trophies"

Save Our Lions, Ban Canned Hunting

Banners In Piccadilly Circus

The Lion King

Dancing Lion


"I Am Not Your Trophy"

Marching Through Whitehall

Roaring For Cecil

Actor James Cosmo Speaks

Handing In The letter At Downing Street

"I Am Not A Trophy"

Trophy Hunting Is Cold Blooded Murder

Canine Lion warrior

Words and photos by Helen Ratcliff

With special thanks to the organisers...
#BornFree #LionAid #IFAW #FourPAWS & #Oneprotest


Saturday, 2 January 2016

New Year Rising...


As the new year rises, a state of hope and melancholy prevails. A strange combination. New beginnings and transitions often pull emotional strings as there is an attachment to what is familiar. Whether good or bad, it is what we know. Hope comes with not knowing and that is what drives us forwards. We all hope for better things to come... Happiness, health, prosperity and luck. As we all wish for these things, for just a moment we throw our caution to the wind and the universe. As individuals we are all responsible for our own fortuitous encounters or are we? Well, chance suggests a possibility of happening but emphasises an uncertainty and addictedness on other future events for existence or occurrence. Nothing is written in stone until we write it. It takes faith and confidence to trust in a better future. So, with that said, anything is possible. The dawning of the new year gives us all the chance to start a fresh and learn from the mistakes and challenges from the past year. We push forwards as always, and furthurmore, we strive to realise dreams and goals.  The feelings of melancholy drift away as life continues. We make our resolutions, book holidays and detox.  We never stop trying and we re-write our own stories. 

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Roaring for Cecil

Yesterday, November 28th, we marched through central London and roared for Cecil. The famous lion was murdered by a trophy hunter earlier this year but left a legacy and opened the lid on canned hunting of lions. The story went global and helped us in our plight to raise awareness around the unethical killing of lions. They are literally bred for the bullet and live in confined spaces, raised from cubs after being separated from their mothers at a very vulnerable age. Then, semi-tame are chosen off a menu by rich trophy hunters and are then released only to be shot. They are also killed for chinese medicine for a very high price. This terrible business is booming in South Africa where the demands are met by lion farmers willing to make easy money. They say it's for conservation .... sadly it is just about cash and fulfilling the egos of the wealthy who think it is okay to kill our natural heritage. Well, it is not okay. 

Lions are apex predators and they are essential to the ecology in Africa. Killing a male can wipe out generations as when a lion is taken, another, perhaps with weaker genes, will move in to a pride and kill the cubs. Over time this can have terrible effects on the overall health and wellbeing of a pride. Females are also used as production machines and whilst removed from their young will be thrown back in to oestrus and in some cases producing cubs two or three times a year. This would not happen naturally, in the wild. The cubs do not develop as they should, either. Hand reared, they are raised only to be killed a couple of years later. Still, it does not end there...Trophy hunters prefer a mature male so will hire someone to seek out one in the wild... due to the handsome mane, showing strong genes. The reason behind this is so they can hang the head on their wall and boast to their friends about the large, aggressive lion they have hunted. It is a lie. The lions are sometimes sedated and are use to humans so, more often than not will face their killer head on. Otherwise, they are lured by bate to an area where they make an easier target, like Cecil. Cecil was first shot with an arrow which caused him considerable suffering for about 40 hours before he was killed with a bullet. He had a family and was the subject of researchers and brought in many tourists as he was the perfect speciman representing these magnificent animals.

This industry is corrupt, untruthful and destroying our wildlife as we know it. The breeders and trophy hunters argue that it's for the sake of conservation and restores balance within the ecosystem. This treatment of lions has nothing to do with preservation. If all was above board then why are the breeders so concerned with the truth being revealed? Under-cover reporters have been threatened and filming is banned within many breeding operations. So... begs the question, "What are they hiding?" Trophy hunters are aggressive and have no compassion for the animals they are killing. Thousands of dollars/pounds are pumped in to this practise.  I have only touched the surface of the industry, it is so corrupt and the governments are seemingly siding with this dishonourable business. It is a disgrace and raising awareness needs to be amplified around the globe. 

This is why we march and are the voices for the voiceless. Governments need to sit up and take notice of the cruel practise that is Canned Hunting. There will be no lions left in the wild if this continues. This will dramatically change the landscape of Africa and have a detrimental effect on all other beings. Lions have a purpose and are not there to be exploited and slaughtered. Lions need to be listed as endangered before it is too late.

I have said this before, but a world without lions in the wild is unthinkable. They touch the core of the human psyche and evoke emotions in all of us. They command respect and are noble, wise, majestic and social cats. That said, why would anyone in their right mind ever want to harm one? 


To be continued ...