Ricky Gervais has backed a campaign to save a rare white lion from being sold to trophy hunters.

The 57-year-old comedian and actor was left furious when he discovered that the rare beast named Mufasa could be sold to hunters to be shot and killed, rather than handed over to a wildlife park in South Africa where he would be released and free to live peacefully.

Ricky quote tweeted a petition on Twitter which was set up to save Mufasa, and wrote: ''Shame on the pathetic sadist who pays the money to shoot this animal and shame on the snivelling cowards who accepts the money too. Both worthless.''

'Downton Abbey' star Peter Egan, 72, then shared Ricky's sentiments and added: ''RT if like me you agree with @rickygervais. (sic)''

'Loose Women' presenter Sherrie Hewson, 68, and 'Emmerdale' actress Roxy Shahidi, 35, then both shared Peter's post.

Because Mufasa is infertile, the only value he would have is to be bought by a hunting company and then shot - with punters paying up to £30,000 to be the one to kill the animal.

Mufasa - who was named after the lion in Disney movie 'The Lion King' - was confiscated three years ago when he was a cub, along with another baby lion called Soraya, and whilst animal lovers are calling for him to be sent to a sanctuary, authorities in South Africa have instead announced he will be sold at auction, where he could be bought by poachers.

There are said to be less than 300 white lions in the world with only 13 left living in the wild, and so far, the petition to save Mufasa has gained 268,054 of its 270,000 goal.

Part of the petition's description reads: ''Mufasa and Suraya are now three years old and are inseparable.

''Nature conservation officials refused permission for Mufasa to be relocated to a sanctuary, who offered to care for both Mufasa and Suraya for their natural lives, free of charge.

''Instead, the rehab centre was told telephonically that Mufasa will be auctioned to raise funds for the department.

''The number of lion hunters are down and lions have been killed in high numbers for their bones to be exported to the East.

''Soraya and Mufasa are inseparable and it would be extremely traumatic for Soraya to lose her companion. She was in a terrible emotional state before they were united as cubs and even when moved to a bigger enclosure she was highly anxious when she woke up and couldn't find Mufasa.''