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100,000 elephants killed in three years...

Wednesday 20th August 2014

Ivory stockpiles 

No living elephant carries these kinds of tusks in Tanzania


Those are the numbers published in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The article states:

“Poachers killed an estimated 100,000 elephants across Africa between 2010 and 2012, a huge spike in the continent's death rate of the world's largest land mammals because of an increased demand for ivory in China and other Asian nations, a new study published Monday found.
Warnings about massive elephant slaughters have been ringing for years, but Monday's study is the first to scientifically quantify the number of deaths across the continent by measuring deaths in one closely monitored park in Kenya and using other published data to extrapolate fatality tolls across the continent.
The study — which was carried out by the world's leading elephant experts — found that the proportion of illegally killed elephants has climbed from 25 per cent of all elephant deaths a decade ago to roughly 65 per cent of all elephant deaths today, a percentage that, if continued, will lead to the extinction of the species.
China's rising middle class and the demand for ivory in that country of 1.3 billion people is driving the black market price of ivory up, leading to more impoverished people in Africa "willing to take the criminal risk on and kill elephants. The causation in my mind is clear," said the study's lead author, George Wittemyer of Colorado State University.”

So where do we stand?

Let’s begin with some facts.

  • Nobody knows how many elephants remain in Africa. We hear numbers ranging between 400,000 to 600,000. Such numbers seem to give comfort to organizations like CITES and the IUCN because there are still plenty of elephants to be “sustainably utilized”. 
  • Some countries, like Zimbabwe and Tanzania, still insist that elephants should be trophy hunted despite the huge declines in populations. Never mind that the average elephant only carries tusks weighing about 11kg these days. Never mind that the Selous elephant population has been hammered by poaching and that there are only 13,000 left now compared to 70,000 five years ago. The Selous is 80% occupied by hunting concessions.
  • There are two elephant species in Africa. Everyone except geneticists seem to ignore this fact. There are forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) and savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana). Ignoring that fact ignores the real plight of African elephants.
  • Elephant mortalities are not fully reported. A recent aerial survey of elephants in the Mara/Serengeti ecosystem in Kenya/Tanzania found 117 carcasses in the Mara. Many of those had not been entered into the official Kenya Wildlife Service statistics. The article says 100,000 elephants poached, but the number is likely to be much higher as elephants poached are not fully reported in well-monitored areas like the Mara and not at all reported in more remote areas.
  • Demand reduction might be working to some degree, but it is clearly not the fast answer required. China and Thailand and Angola and Zimbabwe and DRC must stop selling ivory locally. There should be a complete ban on ivory sales everywhere to stop the slaughter. Corrupt officials in source and consumer countries are not going to be defeated except by a complete ban. More rangers and better law enforcement are also not going to work fast enough.
  • And let’s not fuel the fires by countries that have ivory stockpiles demanding of CITES that they should be granted rights to sell.

The 1989 ivory ban worked well. Elephant populations recovered as ivory could not be sold legally anywhere. But a slow creep came back, including legal sales approved by CITES, internet sales, “antique” sales.

Let’s all go back to 1989. Sorry China and Thailand, you can live without ivory chopsticks.

Picture credit: Tom Pilston



If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 14:07

When I was a little girl, I saw lions in my dreams...
They would visit me at odd hours, and tell me the most amazing things.
I always hated waking up, and knowing they were gone,
Then we went to the zoo, I thought it would be great fun.

We walked through the gate, and paid the little fee,
and saw a herd of antelope, and zebra under a tree.
I thought this place was kind, and the animals were all free!
...and then i saw the fence, and what was behind it, looked at me.

My classmates rushed past, eager to see more,
but I stood still and silent, I wanted to hear him roar.
I waited and waited, until my feet were sore,
I've only got two, I thought, that guy's got four!

"Please roar, Mr. Lion." I so politely asked,
"Miss Fay's going to come get me, I don't want to be last!"
The silly lion kept looking at my bright yellow flask,
but he soon looked up, and his gaze into my soul was cast.

We stared at each other for a long time indeed
There was a fire in his eyes, and I felt my heart bleed.
He never spoke a sound, yet I came to know his needs,
I learnt of his torment, and I learnt of Man’s greed.

It was an educational trip, that without a doubt,
But an education of numbers, captivity, and clout.
I wanted my friend out of there, I didn’t know how,
All I knew was somehow, he had to get OUT!

He was dying inside, his instinct suppressed,
He was upsettingly, so visibly depressed.
My great lion friend, my wonderous roar!
I remembered his eyes, each time I saw birds soar.

How can I help him? Where can we go?
I couldn’t bear his suffering, I cried on the floor.
Then Daddy came, and asked, “What’s wrong?”
I said “We are free Daddy, but my friend is not!”

Puzzled, he gave me some chalk to draw
I drew us all together, on that big blackboard.
The sun was overhead, and the cage unlocked,
…and there was my friend,
With the mightiest ROAR!



Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 17:14

A message on World Lion Day

Sunday 10th August 2014


How many species will soon become dinosaurs?


There are versions of the same African proverb about lions that go like this:

Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story. (Benin and Ghana)

Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter (Nigeria)

Until lions start writing down their own stories, the hunters will always be the heroes (Kenya, Zimbabwe)

What does the proverb mean?

Simply put, those who are oppressed are voiceless, and we often only hear one version of the truth.

Animals have no voice except the one we give them. And we must speak out against the destruction of one of our most iconic species on this planet in every possible way we can.

Fifty years ago there were 200,000 lions in Africa. Now we struggle to find 15,000 on the whole continent. Every time an actual survey is done the numbers decrease. Gonarezhou National Park in southern Zimbabwe might only have 30-40 lions left. Limpopo National Park in Mozambique might only have 60 lions left. Nigeria has about 30 lions. The Niokolo Koba in western Africa has about 16… I could go on and on, the destruction has been relentless.

This is World Lion Day. Please speak up for the voiceless – tell all your friends, tell your politicians, tell your delegations to the UN, make a difference and today be a lion storyteller.

Can you tell your children 20 years from now that the only place to see a lion is in a zoo?


With thanks to Beck, Chinua Achebe and Simeon Messan Adagba


 If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.


Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 13:05

Dad and cub


We are delighted to be wishing everybody a very happy World Lion Day and very happy to be seeing so much activity about lions on social media this morning!

So come on everybody, let's hear your lion stories and let's share your lion pictures!

Join in out two campaigns launched today!!

GROW YOUR OWN MANE - Grow a beard and help save the African lion


It's the day to celebrate the King of the Jungle! And a huge thank you to the people who send us a donation on this very special day for lions. We will update this list throughout the day so c'mon, dig deep for lions:

Rebecka Lindskog

Peter Cross

Karrie S

3 Comments | Posted by Chris Macsween at 12:17

Tomorrow we acknowledge World Lion Day

Saturday 9th August 2014

Phil Yates lion print


Notice that we did not say “Tomorrow we celebrate World Lion Day”.

There is little to celebrate. Every time an actual census is taken in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania… lion numbers decrease from what we were told was there in the past.

Some still think that there are over 30,000 lions in Africa. Think again.
Are even 15,000 lions on the huge African continent to be celebrated?


We are in a big crisis for lions. One of our most iconic species will soon be gone.

There are positive things we can do. We should have done them 20 years ago, but now here we are in 2014 – and the lion lights are going out all over.

Is there hope?

Yes there is. It will require hard work and lots of energy. We at LionAid do this every day.
And you can help too.

Starting tomorrow:

  • Shout LION from the rooftops and ask us all the questions you need to, until you understand the full extent of the crisis facing lions. Look at our leaflet here
  • Find out about our campaigns and donate to the work we are doing
  • Write to your MP and MEPs and ask for their support to ban the importation of lion trophies – there are template letters on our website
  • Tell all your friends and family about the crisis and get them to help too
  • Participate in some of the events we organise – it creates more awareness and raises funds
  • Join in our fun events - get sponsored!
  • Stand up and be counted for lions

We wish you all a wonderful World Lion Day – it will be if you join the cause now and help us stop the decline of Africa’s most iconic species.


Picture credit: 

If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you. 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 22:07

Poaching 1

Not enough gun?


In a recent meeting in the USA, African leaders from 50 countries or so came together to discuss security, trade and governance. An interesting mix of topics for sure.

Some four leaders, from Namibia, Togo, Gabon and Tanzania also took time to discuss the illegal wildlife trade in a side event.

“When asked what they would like from the US to combat poaching, the overall consensus was equipment. The ranger death toll is escalating, as they are deep in a war in which they are outmanned, outgunned and under trained.

Namibia asked for helicopters, Tanzania requested night vision goggles, Togo wants infrared scanners, and Gabon-military support.” 

Let’s take the reasons for these requests one by one.

  1. “We are outmanned” – is that true? It creates the impression of legions of poachers fighting against a few rangers. Perhaps this is true when bushmeat poachers are added to the mix, but is certainly not true when only looking at commercial poaching of elephants and rhinos. For example, in Kruger Park in South Africa, it is estimated that perhaps 30 or so poachers are operating per day, up against hundreds of soldiers from the South African Defense Force and an equal number of rangers. Poachers tend to be very light on the ground.
  2.  “We are outgunned” – is that true? It creates the impression of heavily armed poachers fighting against rangers without modern weapons. Yes, there might have been instances when ivory poachers and rhino poachers allegedly used helicopters, and instances where Poachersgangs of poachers with automatic weapons have fought against rangers, but overall this is not a truthful picture. Look at this picture (on the left) taken of actual poachers by a trail camera in Kruger. There’s a man with a hunting rifle in front, followed by another man with an axe and also carrying a yellow plastic bottle of water. Both have backpacks on, presumably containing their supplies of food. These men are openly walking around, not dressed in camouflage clothes, just a stroll in the park? A similar picture taken by another trail camera shows three men walking down the middle of a road in broad daylight. Are these poachers so difficult to catch? Are they outgunning the SADF and heavily armed rangers with a single hunting rifle and an axe? 
  3. . “We are under-trained”. That could well be very true. Before the poaching crisis, rangers largely manned gates, collected fees, and did the occasional patrol. But yet these days rangers are quite a lot better trained in terms of how to deal with poachers. Cynics would say they are dealing with poachers to their financial advantage…


What is interesting, therefore, is that the four African leaders all asked for equipment like helicopters and night vision goggles. Namibia has plenty of helicopters sitting idle on their army bases. Tanzania should have plenty of night-vision equipment among their army. Why not share them?

But also, let’s get real. This is just putting plasters on a wound.

It is interesting to note that not a single African leader said – “we need sustainable employment for our people, so they are not tempted into poaching”.

When will that concept catch up with reality?

Picture credits: Oxpeckers and 


If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:19

LionAid has joined JustGoSearch

Friday 8th August 2014


Did you know that every time you search the web from your mobile device, you could be raising funds for LionAid?

JustGoSearch has partnered with Yahoo! so that they can direct some of the online advertising revenue they generate, into LionAid, if we are chosen as the designated charity.

Every time you use your mobile device to search the Internet, you could be raising funds for us!

All you need to do is bookmark LionAid’s search box to the home screen of your mobile device and use it to search the web as you normally do.

And because this is just a bookmark, and not another app, you still get full access to your mobile phones web browser.

How to do it

Click this link from your mobile phone, tablet, desktop and laptop and follow the simple instructions.

Chris's iphoneWhen it’s bookmarked, you get a cool LionAid logo icon on your home screen! (see bottom right of the picture on the left). Just click it every time you want to browse the Internet.

Every search generates money for LionAid’s work to save our remaining fragile lion populations.

In honour of World Lion Day, we are trying to get 100 new users by midnight on the 10th August.

So c’mon click this link today and help lions by becoming a user. THANK YOU!

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 15:44

Worldwide Movers logoWe were delighted to be contacted recently by Worldwide Movers Africa Ltd.
Helen Jones from their Ghana office said:

“Worldwide Movers Africa Ltd is an international relocation company operating in 15 African countries. Our logo is a lioness and we would like to explore linking with a lion charity”

Logically, their particular focus was to support some project work in Africa which, of course, fits well with the innovative project LionAid is just starting in Kenya to find a lasting and sustainable solution to the predator/livestock conflict - one of the major threats to our remaining wild lion populations.

As this project is planned to further roll out across all African lion range States, wherever such conflict occurs, this was a perfect fit for a company with offices in Burundi, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi,Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Somaliland, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

On further discussion, we realised that we had further synergies with a shared goal to educate the next generation and encourage good conservation amongst our youngest members of society. Worldwide Movers Africa are developing little packs for children and we will now produce a page for their packs about lion conservation and the work we are engaged in.

We are also exploring the inclusion of the children they reach out to, in the” Kids for Lions” section of our website and maybe we will find a Young African Ambassador or two from amongst their number. Watch this space!!

So a huge thank you to WorldWide Movers Ghana for their donation and for the support they are giving to our work.

We hope to engage further with the Group and maybe also inspire their clients to support the crucial project work we are undertaking in Africa.

For further information on this forward looking group, you can visit their website here and view pictures of their operation in our photo gallery here.


 If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 12:48

Nov Fundraiser

News of our latest fundraiser!

This promises to be a superb afternoon and it would be amazing if we could see as many of you there as possible. It's a long way for a lot of you, but for some who live up north and couldn't get to our more recent southerly events this would be just right. John is a Patron of LionAid and is a fabulous guy and this story is amazing. That you could buy a lion from Harrods and then keep it in a flat in London beggars belief. Thanks again for all your support everyone.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 14:25

A journey to the old cobbled streets

Thursday 24th July 2014


Back in Dover

Congratulations guys! What a fantastic achievement for lions!!


Jon, Martin, Guiseppe, Andrew and Grant of LeoLites decided to cycle from London to Bruges last weekend (with an overnight stop in Dunkirk) to raise money and awareness for Lion Aid. A great challenge for them all, to raise money to help our work to save lions.

Click here to read the vivid account of their adventures with lots of photos along the way! 

This trip had punctures, bad falls, unintended off road cycling on bikes not equipped for such terrain and even a hair raising stint in the dark on a French motorway! 

And here's the thing - they did this to raise money for lions.

We are in great admiration of these guys for completing this awesome challenge and a big hug for Guiseppe who suffered a bad fall from his bike, but carried on anyway and completed the challenge! 

Very proud of these guys. It was a privilege to meet Jon and Guiseppe in Dover on their return journey.

I asked them to keep the donation site open a while longer for this challenge because I know you would want to support this successfully completed challenge, to help lions.


Click the link above to read "A journey to the old cobbled streets" and then click this link to add your donation.


Thank you all for big hearts helping lions.




Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 20:12