Kenya lion statue auction raises big money

November 7, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Nov 7 – Conservationists in Kenya raised around Sh12.6 million at a sale of 49 life-size lion statues overnight, the auctioneer said early Saturday.

Individual statues went for prices ranging from around Sh82,170 to over Sh97,110.

"We’ve raised in the region of 12,680,000 Kenya Shillings," auctioneer Philip Coulson told participants as he wrapped up the bidding in the early hours of Saturday.

Each statue is the work of a different artist. One has President Barack Obama’s face painted on its haunch, another has a mane made from recycled flipflops, yet another sports chains and is bright pink — the colour of the packets in which the poison most commonly used to kill lions is sold.

The lion statues, which have been on display in the streets and shopping malls of the Kenyan capital for the past two months, were aimed at highlighting the plight of the big cats whose numbers have been decimated in the past two or three decades.

Lions in Kenya now number just over 2,000 individuals, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service. That compares to 2,749 lions seven years ago and some 30,000 back in the 1970s.

Conservationists estimate that unless the current rate of decline is checked, the lion will be extinct in Kenya by 2030.

The auction was organised by the Born Free Foundation, the UK-based international wildlife charity in conjunction with Wild in Art, also based in the UK.


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