World Lion Day 2016 - Only 20,000 Remaining!

World Lion Day 2016 - Only 20,000 Remaining!

Posted by Michael Starbuck on 10th Aug 2016

The lion is arguably one of the most revered animals in the world. It is known in popular culture as the “king of the jungle”, and is often characterised as being a leader. They are animals that, like many others, have faced difficulties from humans and as a result their population has declined. Many conservation efforts to protect the lion exist, and World Lion Day is a key part of that effort. It takes place on 10 August.

There are two types of lion living in the world. The most well-known is the African lion, which lives in several countries on the continent of Africa. The other is known as the Asiatic lion. It once inhabited much of India and the Middle East, but today is restricted to a small area in Gujarat State in India. It is different in appearance to the more well-known African lion as they are smaller and have a much smaller mane.

The Lion Population Today

In 1975 there was believed to be 250,000 African lions living across much of the African continent. The number today is much lower, with some estimates putting the population as low as 20,000.

The story of the Asiatic lion is even more dramatic, although it is a demonstration of what can be done to increase populations, even when they get to drastically low levels. At the turn of the 19th century the Asiatic lion was hunted to the point of extinction. By 1907, just 13 remained. Action was taken to halt the decline, but the numbers are still terribly low - one hundred or so years since the Asiatic lion was nearly wiped out, there is still only around 410 alive today.

Asiatic Lion

Lion Threats

The biggest threat to the African lion is habitat loss. It is estimated the African lion now has access to just 20 percent of the territory that it used to roam. This increases pressure on resources which leads to less prey for the lions to hunt and increased levels of inbreeding. Over the years this has contributed considerably to the declining population.

In fact, in Africa, many countries no longer have a lion population. The problem is particularly bad in Central and West Africa.

Habitat loss also continues to pose a threat to the Asiatic lion.

Another factor placing the lion at risk is human-lion conflict. Trophy hunting, poaching, and disease also contribute.

African Lion

What Needs Done

Given the lion’s high profile, good efforts have been made to protect its population and, in the case of the Asiatic lion, to help the population grow. A lot more is required though, including:

  • Increased work to protect and extend the lion's natural habitat
  • Placing further restrictions on permitted hunting, and the trade in lion products
  • Clamping down on illegal activities like poaching and the black market trade in lion products
  • Educational efforts with local communities plus initiatives to help people and lions live in the same areas

World Lion Day plays a significant role in highlighting the action required all around the world. Lions continue to need our help, and unless we all make important and drastic changes soon, it could be too late for the King of the Jungle.

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