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Daron Mann goes behind enemy lions

Animal activist and Dispatch contributor off to rescue big cats from abandoned zoos in war-ravaged Ukraine

Daily Dispatch podcaster Daron Mann is known for his love of animals.
Daily Dispatch podcaster Daron Mann is known for his love of animals.
Image: SUPPLIED

A personal crusade in pursuit of animal welfare is set to take Daily Dispatch contributor Daron Mann to war-ravaged Ukraine within the next few days.

Daron, who is responsible for the weekly online podcasts The Daily Dispatch in Discussion with Daron Mann and That Weekend Feeling, will be accompanying well-known bear and big cat rescue specialist Lionel de Lange on a mission that could end up rescuing nine or 10 lions abandoned in zoos or by private individuals fleeing the armed conflict.

De Lange, who runs the Warriors of Wildlife organisation, has performed numerous such rescues before and invited Daron to join him on his next trip, which will see the two jet off to Bucharest in Romania before travelling overland to the Ukraine border.

A personal crusade in pursuit of animal welfare is set to take Daily Dispatch contributor Daron Mann to war-ravaged Ukraine within the next few days. Daron, who is responsible for the weekly online podcasts The Daily Dispatch in Discussion with Daron Mann and That Weekend Feeling, will be accompanying well-known bear and big cat rescue specialist Lionel de Lange on a mission to rescue lions, abandoned in zoos or by private individuals, fleeing the armed conflict.

In addition to assisting with the physical rescue of the lions, Daron will also document the mission by way of a digital diary, which will allow the public to keep track of his progress.

There will be daily posts to his dedicated YouTube channel, The Daron Mann Encounter, and he will also provide exclusive content and updates for the Daily Dispatch from Ukraine.

“There was no way I could turn this opportunity down once Lionel suggested it.

“I feel it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me to do something proper and meaningful to help alleviate the suffering of fellow creatures. I am really looking forward to it,” Daron said.

“Our plan is to rescue the lions by collecting them from their location in Ukraine and then, once they’ve been sedated, to transport them by road to Romania, where they will reside at a temporary facility before being repatriated once the necessary paperwork and formalities have been completed.”  

Obviously the idea is for us to get in and out of Ukraine, along with the lions, unscathed and without too much drama, so that’s really all we’re focusing on.

He acknowledges that entering a war zone to rescue the lions will place his personal safety and wellbeing at risk, but says this is not something he thinks about too much.

“Obviously the idea is for us to get in and out of Ukraine, along with the lions, unscathed and without too much drama, so that’s really all we’re focusing on.

“It’s about the animals, nothing else. They never asked to be put in the middle of this human conflict and they at least deserve that we make an effort to rescue them from it,”  he said.


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He leaves SA on May 17 and is set to return on June 6.

Daron and Lionel first met four years ago when they teamed up to draw public attention to the poor living conditions of animals housed at the East London Zoo.

Along with organisations such as Ban Animal Trading and leaders from the Khoisan community, they campaigned for the outright closure of the zoo and for the animals there to be rehomed at various sanctuaries that were willing to assist.

An ardent and outspoken animal rights activist, Daron also made headlines in 2019 when he was controversially axed by regional radio station Algoa FM after saying the dairy industry was “horrific”.

He won numerous awards during a broadcasting career that spanned almost three decades and began contributing podcast material for the Daily Dispatch and sister Arena Holdings publications The Herald and The Weekend Post in September 2021.

Listen to his podcasts from Ukraine on DispatchLIVE. — DDR

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