Martin Clunes has told how he struggled to shake off his sadness after filming a TV documentary on endangered lions.

The Doc Martin actor, 52, attempts to help rehome the animals in remote part of Kenya in ITV programme Martin Clunes and a Lion Called Mugie.

He told the Radio Times: “It surprised me how much I was affected by what I saw.

“It was an amazing experience, but at the same time, day by day, the realisation of what we are losing crept up on me, and that feeling was hard to shake.

“There are 500,000 elephants left in Africa, but only 30,000 lions, and unless something drastic is done, they could die out in the wild in less than 10 years. It’s astonishing and depressing.”

Describing how the film crew came across an elephant skeleton, complete with bullet holes, near their camp, he told the magazine: “It was a young elephant, because there aren’t any 40-year-plus elephant matriarchs left – they’re all gone.

“So now poachers are killing seven-year-old ellies for 20cm tusks, probably just to buy themselves some phone credit. It’s barbaric – and these aren’t isolated incidents.”

The former Men Behaving Badly star, who lives with his family on a farm in Dorset, added: “However much we may want it to be otherwise, the sad fact is that there is no ‘free’ left for lions. For them, fences are the future.”


Press Association