The latest turkish Cosmopolitan issue sponsors one of our great supporters Aslihan Gedik. Asli has lived in many different countries and therefore speaks English, French, Dutch and Spanish. Currently she is living in Frankfurt and is working as a banker. However, apart from being a banker she is also supporting us in our Lion Projects. Here is a summary of the article in the Cosmopolitan for all of you who aren't fluent in turkish...
"We wonder how did the story of this beautiful and courageous girl start? Asli begins to tell her story by saying, “Why should a banker not also be an environmentalist and animal lover?”" How did you start working with lions? I have always had a great interest in the cat family, especially big cats! While travelling in Africa, I received an invitation from an organization studying the protection of lions and nature. That day I met with the "king of the forests” and I will remember that day forever. You have done a lot of work for nature and animals, however we are most interested in your work with lions. Are you not scared of them? Absolutely not. I think every animal feels your fear. If you show your fear, an animal detects this instantly. He is either also afraid of you or wants you to think so, therefore attacks. I am never afraid of animals. How did you experience the first moment you touched a lion? Eleven months ago I had the first physical contact with a lion. I gathered my courage and experienced that moment with the lion experts. But of course to get to that point, I had to learn the necessary things; bend down to the lion, do not turn your back to him and no matter what, do not run away. Furthermore you should have nothing on your head. The solution is to put your shoes together, not wear a hat and extend your hand to the lion in a sturdy manner. Who took the photographs you have shared with us? Our lion expert, Leign-Ann Marnoch, and a new teammate Jonathon Conolly took the photographs. Professional photographers often do not want to take such photographs, as they are afraid to endanger their life. Our own little team is able to experience this special moment. There are photographs of young lions. Did their mothers react to this? The young lions photographed, were not accepted by their mother. The team looks after them for a while, like a mother (some are nurtured by a bottle). At a later stage, once they have learned how to hunt, they are integrated into the wildlife program. You work as a volunteer for an organization called “Alert”. What do you do?
In Zimbabwe and Zambia, Alert (African Lion & Environmental Research Trust) is a scientific organization established in order to protect lions and nature. In 1975 the lion population was 200 thousand, but today only 20-30 thousand remain. Can you imagine Africa without any lions? Or a world without lions? What will be the meaning of La Fontaine’s fables “ not the king of the animal kingdom”. The philosophy of this group is to rescue lions, rehabilitate them, let them reproduce and then finally bring them back to nature. Our aim is to let the lions continue their lives in their natural habitat, away from people.How do you manage to make time for lions in your intensive work schedule? This is indeed a little difficult…when I have spare time I spend it trying to improve things. Systematically I spend a part of my salary to give back to and improve nature. Although it seems I have very little time, I am able to organize time because this is what I want. Are you a vegetarian? Yes. I also prefer to stay away from animal products like eggs. I know it is not right to expect everyone to do the same, but certainly I am against wearing fur, of course. When you are leaving for a work trip, what do you bring in your bag?
Binoculars, hand cream, lip balm, a few books, magazines, photo camera, Rayban Aviator sunglasses, toothbrush, toothpaste, bikini, sunscreen, cell phone, Swiss army-knife, eye-spray, passport, wallet and full health insurance cards are always in my bag.Which websites do you recommend to visit for more information? The basis is to educate everyone. James Cameron's Avatar film, and the message, "I see you," is the most beautiful example of this philosophy. Everyone has to do something! If you would like more information and learn about what you can do for lions go to ‘lionalert.org’.
We thank Asli for her support and Cosmopolitan for the article on Asli and our project. If you would like to volunteer with us on one of our lion projects such as the Hands-on Lion Conservation Volunteering - Antelope Park Project, the Hands-On Lion Conservation Volunteering - Livingstone, Zambia Project and the Hands-on Lion and Conservation Volunteering - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Project visit us on our African Impact site or take a look at Lion Alert.