Meet our new Youth Ambassadors

We recently relaunched our #YouthForLions Ambassador Programme and are proud to introduce our new Youth Ambassadors.

These driven young individuals are set to play an extremely important role with the youth around the world by spreading awareness amongst their schools and communities. Each one of them has something unique to offer, but their passion for wildlife conservation and education is the commonality that has drawn them to our campaign.

Stephanie Klarmann:

Steph is a teacher, with her Masters in Psychology and has been a part of the campaign since 2017. She has organised a screening of the Blood Lions® film at Sagan Academy, the school that she teaches at, and continues to show the film to her students while encouraging discussion around the topics of captive breeding, canned hunting and wildlife conservation.

“My first love has always been about protecting animals, whether that meant being involved in welfare or advocacy issues, I knew where I wanted to be. When the issue of breeding lions for canned hunting became public, I was driven by the injustice and cruelty to be a part of something that would bring change. I truly believe in our ability to bring about positive change through education and advocacy, by being a voice for our wildlife. As a wildlife photographer, my greatest hope is that I can showcase Africa’s beautiful wildlife and demonstrate to others why keeping them wild and free is the only way to genuinely experience animals like big cats and elephants. South Africa’s youth can provide an especially powerful voice above those who choose to exploit wildlife. 

As a high school educator, I like to work closely with students and encourage their participation to pledge against supporting captive facilities. I hope that as a #YouthForLions Ambassador I can continue to spread this message to our youth on a greater platform. Education is vital to bringing about change, and I believe young people are more than capable of creating positive transformation when given the opportunity to understand the difference between exploitation and genuine conservation.”

Santhani Rungan:

Santhani is a student at Eden Schools, Durban, and a member of the Durban Youth Council. She has organised #YouthForLions talks at the Durban Youth Council and Eden College, and she arranged for our team to attend the Eden Schools Eco Fest.

“Standing up for what you believe in is something very close to my heart and this related to all facets of life. Especially standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. South Africa’s wildlife makes up an important aspect of our cultural heritage. By being careless and not taking care of our animals, we are destroying an integral part of our community. The majestic creatures that we share our space in Africa with are voiceless and for that they are suffering. Is it up to us to do something about it. 

I want to be a #YouthForLions Ambassador because the fight against wildlife crime is never-ending. If we don’t use our voices to speak up for those who cannot fight for themselves, who will? Spreading awareness to our youth is vital as we are the changemakers, the ones who have to take care of the planet and its creatures. Lions are beautiful creatures and if we don’t act, these big cats will continue to suffer at the hands of unkind humans. There is no better time to make a change than the present.”

Ben Wallace:

Ben is a British photojournalist, documentary filmmaker and adventurer with a passion for wildlife and southern Africa. He is a qualified ranger and previously worked as an ecologist and researcher at a game reserve in South Africa.

“I believe that the greatest way to inspire change is to inform and to educate others, and using social media is the best way to maximise this reach, and to maximise the difference that you make. As someone who was fairly knowledgeable on the subject, attending the YouthForLions ‘LIVE WILD’ Workshop and watching the Blood Lions® documentary was completely eye-opening for me. To see these beautiful and magnificent wild animals, the kings of wildlife reduced to a cage, habituated to people, and subjected to a system of breeding and slaughter similar to that of battery farming, is truly heart-breaking.

As young people, it is not necessarily because of our own doing that there are ongoing environmental problems which our planet faces, but it is up to us to be the driving force to inspire change, to make a difference, and to create the future that we want for ourselves, for our planet, and for the wildlife that we share it with. It’s a privilege for me to be a #YouthForLions Ambassador. I will take on this role with great pride and even greater responsibility to help this incredible team to expose the captive lion breeding industry, and to ultimately put an end to this cruel practice once and for all.”

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela.

Quéanne Southwood:

Quéanne is a Durban-based performer who lives for wildlife, conservation and travelling. Her mother, Janine, has worked in the tourism industry for many years and was one of our presenters at the YouthForLions ‘LIVE WILD’ Workshop.

“My love and passion for wildlife started as a young child and its something I had hoped would stay with me and grow into something bigger, as I grew older. As perseverance would have it, now, at the age of 20, I am so honoured to be a #YouthForLions Ambassador for their campaign which aims to educate and bring an end to canned hunting and the exploitative breeding of lions and other predators on farms across South Africa. I owe it to my mom for instilling in me, at a young age, an understanding and respect for our wildlife. Due to my mother’s role in the tourism industry, I have travelled throughout South Africa and was taught to love these beautiful creatures. It is in my blood to protect and do whatever I can to ensure Africa’s wildlife thrives. If you are not filled with overflowing love, compassion and goodwill for all creatures living in nature, You will never know true happiness.

From the words of Mufasa, “Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance.” As humans, we need to understand that balance and respect, from the tiny elephant shrew to the King of the jungle, our lions. This is the circle of life and it’s our job to protect it. As a professional singer and performing artist, it is a privilege to now be able to combine my two biggest passions, music and wildlife, to make a significant difference in saving our lions.”

“If they breathe, they live, if they live, they feel. If they feel they love, if they love, they are aware and if they are aware, they have a soul” – Anthony Douglas Williams.

Ian Swain II:

Ian currently serves as Vice President for Swain Destinations. He lives his passion every day by using travel as a vehicle to enrich and expand the worldviews of travellers from around the world. Blessed with the opportunity to travel the world from an early age, Ian has witnessed both the positive and negative impact that humans have on wildlife.

“Working within the Travel Industry, I have been introduced to the diversity of our world and seen first-hand how this industry can directly contribute to the conservation and sustainability of wildlife and wilderness. I believe one of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to show people our world – to bring them face to face with not only the beauty, but also the challenges. Exposing people to these dire challenges is one thing, but to bring them face to face with them develops the emotional connection. I know through responsible and sustainable travel, we can add value through awareness, conservation and action. That is what I strive to do.

I remember the first time I saw a pride of lions roaming free across African plains; a story that I still tell 15 years later. That moment left an indelible mark on my heart and planted the seeds of purpose. The purpose being that we must be the champions for our wildlife, who deserve our respect and protection. It is no longer enough to simply inspire. It is no longer enough to accept half-measures and moral victories. Now is the time for fully committed action that protects this planet and the wildlife that make it so special.”