LionAid is the only international organization specifically dedicated to lion conservation.
Why is there a need for LionAid?
Over the past 50 years, wild lion numbers in Africa have decreased from over 200,000 to less than 15,000 today. The reasons for this drastic decline are varied, but the main reasons can be summarized as follows:
- Prideland is becoming farmland - 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 has had had to give way. This also implies that there is less and less natural prey available for lions – and they inevitably turn to livestock.
- Not all lions are the same - Genetic studies have shown that in Africa, lions are not all alike. In fact, western African lions are more closely related to the remaining lion population in India than other lions in southern and eastern Africa. Latest survey results indicate that there might be as few as 400 western African lions remaining, and therefore that these animals are critically endangered.
- Lions and disease - Lions are susceptible to a number of diseases, among them canine distemper virus and bovine tuberculosis. Lions are also infected with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. As the name implies, this virus has a strongly negative impact on the function of a lion’s immune system, reproduction and survival of lions in the wild. Infection rates can be as high as 90% in some populations.
- Trophy hunting - Lions are highly sought after as trophies for sport hunters. Despite the well-documented decline in lion numbers, there is still a considerable demand for trophies. During the ten years 2003-2012, a total of 3,567 lion trophies have been exported from African nations (excluding South Africa) and an additional 897 lion skins. 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. Western African lions continue to be trophy hunted.
- Controversial lion breeding - South Africa has embarked on a highly controversial programme to breed lions in captivity to provide a range of lion products. These have included 6,782 trophies over the ten years 2003-2012, 734 skins, tons of lion bones exported to Asia for the Traditional Medicine trade, etc. We treat South Africa as a separate issue as these are not wild lions, but remain highly concerned by this captive breeding as we believe it is strongly unethical, horrifyingly cruel and there are strong indications that lions are captured in the wild to supplement the breeding populations. In addition, the supply of lion bones to Asia has generated additional demand and there are verified reports of lion bones (from poached animals or trophy-hunted animals) being exported to Asia from other lion range states as well.