Today is World Lion Day. And on this day people from all over the world celebrate the mighty creature by creating ongoing conservation awareness with pledges, plights and petitions – all necessary, all needed.

Initially, before I started with this blog post I thought that I was going to write a bit more on canned lion hunting, on predator petting (or any interaction) and on how lions are bred purely the human pleasure of killing (as ridiculous as that may sound).

But I’m not.

Because when I woke up this morning to the images, articles and pleas on social media one thought came to mind: I am scared shitless of lions.

I am scared shitless of lions because I respectfully fear lions.

And I wondered, what has happened to respectfully fearing lions? How did we get to a place where people are not scared shitless of lions anymore?

How did we get to the now where lions are exploited, abused and paraded for entertainment? How did you get to the now where lions are portrayed as cute cuddly pets? How did we get to the now where petting a predator trumps fearing a predator? How did we get to the now where humans can have such a negative demeaning power over an animal much stronger, an animal they’ve once called king?

Lions – and all wild animals – deserve our respect and they deserve our fear. They deserve to be respectfully feared today, on World Lion Day, and tomorrow.

This is my hope, my wish, my African dream:

May we never stop fearing lions, may we never take away their power, may the deep rumbling echoing roar continue to give us chills, and may the sight of a lion in the wild be met with gratitude wrapped up in serendipitous honour and excitement.

I am scared shitless of lions.

But I am also scared shitless FOR lions.