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Rachel Riley unveils 'clockwork' lion in London to highlight extinction

Published 28/01/2016

Rachel Riley at the unveiling of a fifth lion statue - sculpted from clock parts as a warning of possible extinction of the species within our lifetime - in Trafalgar Square, London. PA
Rachel Riley at the unveiling of a fifth lion statue - sculpted from clock parts as a warning of possible extinction of the species within our lifetime - in Trafalgar Square, London. PA
Rachel Riley at the unveiling of a fifth lion statue - sculpted from clock parts as a warning of possible extinction of the species within our lifetime - in Trafalgar Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday January 28, 2016. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Rachel Riley at the unveiling of a fifth lion statue - sculpted from clock parts as a warning of possible extinction of the species within our lifetime - in Trafalgar Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday January 28, 2016. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Rachel Riley at the unveiling of a fifth lion statue - sculpted from clock parts as a warning of possible extinction of the species within our lifetime - in Trafalgar Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday January 28, 2016. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Rachel Riley unveils Fifth Lion Statue at Trafalgar Sq on January 28, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Rachel Riley unveils Fifth Lion Statue at Trafalgar Sq on January 28, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Rachel Riley unveils Fifth Lion Statue at Trafalgar Sq on January 28, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Rachel Riley unveils Fifth Lion Statue at Trafalgar Sq on January 28, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)

Countdown star Rachel Riley has unveiled a "clockwork" lion statue in London's Trafalgar Square to illustrate that big cats are facing their own race against time.

Riley revealed the sculpture, made entirely from clock mechanics, alongside the four bronze lions already flanking Nelson's Column.

Rachel Riley at the unveiling of a fifth lion statue - sculpted from clock parts as a warning of possible extinction of the species within our lifetime - in Trafalgar Square, London. PA
Rachel Riley at the unveiling of a fifth lion statue - sculpted from clock parts as a warning of possible extinction of the species within our lifetime - in Trafalgar Square, London. PA

It will temporarily join the existing pride of lion statues to highlight the threat of extinction the animal faces.

Lions were added to the endangered species list last month after a loss of prey, habitats and an increase in poaching slashed their population by 50%, figures from the Big Cats Initiative show.

The 10ft (3m) high installation will watch over the square for a limited time, before being auctioned to raise money for the National Geographic Society's initiative.

The former Strictly Come Dancing contestant said: "I'm a huge cat lover both big and small, but the plight of our big cats is alarming.

"You don't need a maths degree to notice the staggering decline in lion populations.

"In the 1800s there were hundreds of thousands of wild lions worldwide, but at the current rate of decline this figure could be in the hundreds within the next 30 years, with the realistic prospect of extinction in my lifetime."

Co-founder of the Big Cats Initiative Dereck Joubert said: "Today we have more statues of them than actual cats roaming the world so it is important that we raise awareness of these majestic creatures and point to their rapid decline and find solutions.

"If declines continue at their current pace, wild cat species around the world face a very real risk of extinction.

"That is why a week dedicated to big cats is hugely important.

"It stimulates discussion and can help us find solutions."

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