15 Minutes Of Lions In Slow Motion On A GoPro Cam Is Pure Bliss, But Are Lions Becoming Endangered?

11/21/2013 03:51 pm ET
  • Sarah Barness Huffington Post Trends and Digital Innovation editor. Writer, Artist Extraordinaire

Self-proclaimed animal behaviorist and lion whisperer, Kevin Richardson, has a controversial relationship with animals, to say the least.

Footage of his trip to Pretoria, South Africa, reveals his extremely close encounters with his lion and hyena friends, and many argue that the interactions are much too close for comfort.

Regardless of what you think about Richardson, it's hard to deny the majesty of the big cats when they are viewed through a GoPo lens, and are in slow motion.

The camera effect makes it feel as though you are with them, and you will want to reach out to touch the animals through your screen. They just look so soft!

Richardson warns that lions may be the next endangered species because of the damage to their habitat, and hopes to use his unique relationship with them to bring attention to the fact that wildlife in Africa is suffering.

Lions are not officially listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, even though their population has dramatically decreased in a short period of time. According to a study by researchers at Duke University, lion populations in Africa have gone down by almost two-thirds over the last 50 years. The study shows that in the 1950s there were as many as 100,000 lions on the continent, but now there may be as few 32,000.

Because they are not yet recognized as endangered, the big cats are not protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and it is legal to import lion trophies and parts into the U.S.

The Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary's mission is to preserve African carnivores through education, awareness and funding. The sanctuary aims to bring awareness to "the rapid decline of large carnivores in Africa due to habitat loss, human-predator conflict, unscrupulous hunting, disease and their illegal trade."

To make a donation to Richardson's cause, visit the PAW Conservation Trust.

Also on HuffPost:

CONVERSATIONS