Meet Moya. He is a rare white lion with the most fabulous mane. The spectacular carnivore, who lives in the Glen Garriff Conservation lion sanctuary, South Africa, has the most luscious locks. The six-year-old lion was photographed by British photographer Simon Needham, who said the first time he saw Moya, he was shocked by his looks. He said: ‘I love animals, but Moya’s stunning coat blew me away the first time I saw it.
‘It was difficult to get close to him, but I had a few moments when he came close enough for me to get a few great shots as he walked his territory. ‘When you are in the moment you don’t really get a chance to appreciate the beauty of it all but obviously, afterwards, I realised what lovely pictures we had.’
At the conservation, they have several white lions, but white lions are rare in the wild, because the colouring is the result of a genetic mutation in which two copies of the gene must be present for the white coat to show up in the animal. Simon, who is originally from Leeds, said he was shown around by Suzanne Scott, the director of the non-profit lion sanctuary.
Simon said he hoped his photographs of Moya would help raise awareness of the sanctuary and for the plight of lions in the wild. He added: ‘I think the story is one of conservation awareness and to highlight the very serious issues that lie in this world where many of the most iconic animals are on the brink of extinction in the wild. ‘If I can help to contribute to this in some small way then I’m honoured to be able to help.’
Simon works as a director and professional photographer and sells work, giving 50% back to conservations. ‘I’m really happy that we can bring some light onto this subject and at the same time bring support to GG Conservation,’ he said. We’ve never seen such a beautiful lion. We can only imagine how adorable Moya was as a cub.