There can be no “celebration” today, as lions continue to decline all over Africa.
There are many reasons for this decline, and the “usual” list is “conflict” with livestock, loss of habitat, loss of natural prey, trophy hunting, disease, etc.
There still seems to be an “acceptance” that 20,000 or 25,000 or even 30,000 wild lions still remain in Africa.
LionAid has long posed that such numbers are based on dated and/or optimistic projections, some by organizations willing to promote continued trophy hunting.
It should be noted that there has not been a SINGLE overall lion population count in Africa EVER. For sure, lion numbers have been “assessed” locally by various means, but these are always based on “extrapolations” from small areas where lions have been “counted” or just based on some sort of vague “estimate” of what number of lions occur.
Lions in Kruger Park (potentially one of the largest remaining populations) have not been reliably counted for well over a decade. That same time frame applies to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, central African nations – the list is very long.
There can be no better recent example of the folly of accepting “estimates” than the counts that recently came out of southeastern Angola. There, the lion population was thought by various organizations to number anywhere between 1,400 to 1,900 lions.
A recent “on the ground” survey showed that only 10-30 lions remained.
LionAid estimates that realistically, only about 13,000 to 14,000 wild lions remain in Africa, most of them in southern Africa (Botswana, South Africa and to some extent Zimbabwe) and in Tanzania. Realistically, only 4-5 large lion populations (in excess of 1,000 individuals) exist.
It is not useful for wildlion conservation for organizations to add up 20 lions here, 50 lions there, maybe 200 lions elsewhere to arrive ultimately at their overall assessment of Africa’s wild lion population. Small populations could be gone in a few days because of a disease, a fire, a drought, poaching, poisoning.
This decline is unacceptable. Lions are the not only one of the most iconic species in the world, but are also crucial in maintaining balanced ecosystems in Africa.
So on this World Lion Day, spare a thought for a species declining every day through an absence of funds to put in place realistic and effective conservation programs. Africa needs wild lions and the world needs lions not in cages or zoos or safari parks.
Fund whatever organization you trust to make a real difference for the conservation of wild lions. We certainly would welcome your donation......
But do it now, as the clock of extinction for wild lions is ticking louder by the day.
Picture credit: Wikimedia