The white lion is occasionally found in wildlife reserves in South Africa and is a rare colour mutation of the Kruger subspecies of lion (Panthera leo krugeri). It has been perpetuated by selective breeding in zoos around the world. White lions are not yet a separate subspecies and they have been said to be indigenous to the Timbavati region of South Africa for centuries, although the earliest recorded sighting in this region was 1938. Regarded as divine by locals, white lions first came to public attention in the 1970s in Chris McBride’s book The White Lions of Timbavati. Up until 2009, when the first pride of white lions was reintroduced to the wild, it was widely believed that the white lion could not survive in the wild. It is for this reason that, now, a large part of the population of white lions are in zoos. Another large part, however, are bred in camps where they are bred almost always for canned hunting trophies. Its a relative of the plain lion
It is hard to determine exactly how many white lions there are today, because they are held in captive breeding and canned hunting operations which don’t keep adequate records. Based on available evidence, The Global White Lion Protection Trust estimate there are less than 300 White Lions world-wide.
White lions are not albino lions. Instead, the white color is caused by a recessive gene known as chinchilla or color inhibitor. They vary from blonde through to near white. This coloration, however, does not disadvanatge them in any way. The white lions of The Global White Lion Protection Trust have been reintroduced into their natural habitat and have been hunting and breeding successfully without human intervention for a significant amount of time. White lions of South Africa are currently being bred almost purely for canned hunting trophies, but Linda Tucker, the founder of The Global White Lion Protection Trust and author of ‘The Mystery of the White Lions: Children of the Sun God’, and her team are trying to change the South African hunting laws in the favour of the lions.