It is estimated that during the last 40 years the lion population around Africa has decreasedby between 65 – 75 % The statistics alone are frightening to say the least but the questionasked by so many is how? How is it possible or rather what are the causes of this largedecline. Unmonitored trophy hunting over several decades, human population increasing,general prey declining, the growing demand for lions bones and poisoning of lions are but afew that led to this catastrophe. The fact that we have observed a decline during ourgeneration states the obvious that lions require our assistance urgently.
Decades and generations of badly managed hunting of wild lions have caused a significantdecline of specific areas where trophy hunters targeted dominate male lions. Male lionsplay a vital role within a pride/s as they serve to protect females and offspring that carrytheir own DNA. When hunters constantly target male lions it allows new males to enter a‘vacant’ space. These males do not tolerate offspring from other males and therefore takeaction by killing them. When new males kill offspring it allows the lionesses that had thecubs to fall into estrous shortly afterwards that allows the new males to impregnate thefemales with their genetic stands. Sometimes lionesses fight back which leads to injuries orpride separation or evidently death itself as a mother projects her offspring no matter whatthe threat would be.
It is no secret that the human population has excelled to way past earth’s carrying capacityso with an increase of people, the demand for ‘free space’ is required. Wildlife around theworld; not just Africa is fighting for their own little spaces but with external pressuresloaming around each corner it makes life difficult for each individual species. When humansencroach in their territories it does not always mean that only space is taken from lions.Poaching for bush meat increases, deforestation takes place and livestock are brought intothis specific area. Natural prey will eventually move away due to pressure and other factors,which leaves lions very little options. Lions cannot follow natural prey due to the fact thatlions occupy a set territory that they will defend till death. When most prey disappears thelions have fever options but livestock or sometimes making humans their main diet. Thisleads to conflict and yet again death of lions.
The lion bone trade is fairly new with regards to it effecting wild lions but the trade has beenconstantly increasing over several years not. The main importers of lion parts are Vietnamand Laos that use the parts for various reasons such as producing lion bone wine, which isseen as a delicacy. Other lion parts are used for medicinal usages, as they believe that lionbone soup cures flue. It is similar to the westernized society with chicken soup. The demandis increasing daily and majority of the products come from South Africa’s canned lionhunting industry that fuels this. The latest reports were that the demand has shifted towardsa preference for ‘wild lions’ due to the fact that wild lions are seen as a stronger specimenwith better quality of bone and body parts. Local African poachers enter various parksaround Southern Africa, poison waterholes, snare or shoot lions to sell their parts all illegally and under the radar of local authorities. When poison is placed in a waterhole it not onlykills lions but all other prey surviving of this water source. Scavengers and birds of preysuch as vultures also die when they consume the deceased lion as the poison still remains inthe body of the carcass. This causes a large tumbling effect as one can imagine and has hugeconsequences for all wildlife.
The reality is that lions are dying out and some expect the last wild lions to be doomed by2030. Several bans on hunting has seen an outcry from locals to bring it back (as hunterssupply them with meat and a few locals will possibly get a job) and the ban saw and outcryof joy from animal lovers, conservationists and the general public that is against hunting.This is a step in the right direction to slow down the process of their decline but a lot morehas to be done to insure their survival. This is why we chose to do our best to assist localpeople with their conflict with lions. It is of upmost importance that YOU and we supportthese people through the work that we do on the ground as it not only builds socialrelationships between each other but also allows space for education and the survival oflions.