Let us provide some background. World Lion Day (WLD) was initiated in 2013 to raise public awareness about the plight of …
LionAid are dedicated to the conservation of Lions, These are the reasons why the conservation of lions are so important:
- Over the past 50 years, wild lion numbers in Africa have decreased from over 200,000 to less than 20,000 today.
- Lions have been well-studied, but not protected better as a result of such scientific studies.
- Lions have died in numbers as a result of human/livestock conflict and retaliation. This is because (fewer and fewer) lions occur on land that used to be pridelands and are now cattlelands. A growing human population in Africa demands land, and through the many decades, wildlife had to give way.
- Lions are infected with a disease called Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. While lions have their own genetic strain of the virus split into many substrains and different from FIV among domestic cats, the virus has a significant impact on the reproduction and survival of lions in the wild. Especially when the lions, with immune systems as compromised as humans with HIV, are challenged with invading viruses as canine distemper (domestic dogs) and bacteria like bovine tuberculosis (domestic cattle and via them to wild buffalos).
- Lions are a major trophy for hunters. Despite their well-documented decline, there is still a considerable trophy hunting effort. Since the last-published decline in lion numbers on the continent were made public in 2002-2004, over 4,400 lions have been exported as trophies. As such trophies are largely male lions, the effect of this commercial activity has greatly impacted both overall lion numbers and the ability for remaining lions to reproduce. Trophy hunting must cease.
- Lions are a culturally iconic species the world over. Lions have been awarded religious, heraldic, and flagship status at least for very many cultures. No other species on the planet is represented in so many symbols, statues, representations, works of art, and representations in literature as the lion. Do we dare turn our back on the species?
- In Africa, lions are the top predator in ecosystems. Lose lions and lose ecosystem stability and function.
- To lose the lion in Africa should be considered as our final failure to keep natural populations of large predators alive. Twenty years from now all natural lion populations, without considered conservation plans, will be gone. Hunted, poisoned, speared, trapped, slaughtered. In the past 50 years we have allowed 180,000 lions to become bleached bones or tanned skins. New ideas and new ways forward are necessary for the remaining 20,000.