Martin Clunes joins a mission set to make wildlife history by returning endangered lions to a remote part of Kenya in a documentary to be exclusively broadcast on ITV Choice.
It is 25 years since lions roamed in the Kora National Reserve where legendary conservationist George Adamson set up a camp to rescue lions and release them back into the wild. The heartbreaking but successful story of rescuing orphaned cub Elsa became internationally famous in the blockbuster film Born Free, based on the iconic book written by George’s wife Joy.
Tony Fitzjohn worked closely with George, and continues to work in wildlife conservation. He has lovingly rebuilt George’s original camp, Kampi Ya Simba, in the Kora National Reserve, abandoned after he was murdered by Somali bandits in 1989. Tony picks up where he and George left off all those years ago, with the aim of releasing captive and orphaned lions back into the wild with the support of the Kenya Wildlife Service.
British actor Martin Clunes has had a close friendship with Tony since they met 20 years ago when they released Nina, a zoo elephant, back into the wild. In this documentary Martin travels to Kenya to visit Tony and to meet his first lion cub to be brought to the Kora camp for 25 years.
Martin says: “Although elephants and rhinos get most of the publicity, lions in Africa are facing an equally serious crisis. While there are about 500,000 elephants left on the continent, there are only 30,000 lions. If something isn’t done, they could die out in the wild in less than ten years.”
“Three years ago a mission began to bring lions back to a remote Kenyan wilderness. From day one I have had the privilege of being a witness to this story. It’s one that stirred deep childhood memories, brought great highs and awful lows. This is the true story of one animal’s big adventure, and one man’s dream.”
Tony Fitzjohn says: “In the 24 years I’ve been away, lions themselves are becoming an endangered species and it’s only in the centre of some very well protected areas or national parks you still get lions. But to be able to do something for lions again, in my world, if there’s a gap or an offer to do something, you just go for it. You can’t say no.”
Tuesday 15th August
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