How’s the future looking for African Lions? Did you know the king of the jungle, the mighty lion, is being wiped out by humans…
African Lion are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Redlist and their population is decreasing. The decline in lion populations has been huge, 100 years ago there were approximately 200,000 individuals and today there’s estimated to be less than 23,000 lions left.
Lions face many threats including:
- Habitat loss
- Prey depletion
- Human-wildlife conflict
- Illegal trade in body parts for traditional medicines
- Trophy hunting
Cases of lion poaching have been reported in Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
There is no history of lion bone use in traditional medicine in Asia but there is increasing cases of lion bone being used in place of tiger bone as a result of the decline in tigers (around 3,900 individuals remain).
CITES lists African Lion as Appendix II and allow “export for trade in bones, bone pieces, bone products, claws, skeletons, skulls and teeth for commercial purposes, derived from captive breeding operations in South Africa” with annual export quotas established and communicated annually.
In South Africa, there is something called ‘Canned Lion Hunting’ where the captive lions are shot in a fenced area by ‘hunters’. These lions have often been hand-raised by unsuspecting tourists who have paid for the experience of cuddling, taking selfies with and even helping to raise the cubs, thinking they are helping the wildlife in some kind of rehabilitation type of scenario when in fact it is another way for the canned lion industry to make money. Once the lions are older they are hunted within an enclosure. In 2017, an annual quota of 800 lion skeletons from captive-bred lions was approved and in 2018 the figure was nearly doubled to 1,500.
Lion have lost 85% of their historical range. They play a vital role in the ecosystem as they are top predators that dominate their environment and help keep a balance in the number of prey animals. They also help with disease control by taking the weakest members of the herd. Lions have no natural predators.
How Can You Help Lions?
- Raise awareness of the plight of lions
- Do not buy wildlife products. The killing would not happen if the demand was not there.
- Do not participate in lion petting
- Support conservation efforts and anti poaching units
Tread lightly on this Earth,
Resources and further reading: