News / Africa

Effort Launched to Save Africa’s Lions

Researchers warn that the king of the animals - the lion is rapidly losing its habitate in the savannahs of Africa.Researchers warn that the king of the animals - the lion is rapidly losing its habitate in the savannahs of Africa.
x
Researchers warn that the king of the animals - the lion is rapidly losing its habitate in the savannahs of Africa.
Researchers warn that the king of the animals - the lion is rapidly losing its habitate in the savannahs of Africa.

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
An upcoming celebration that highlights the importance of lions to the environment --World Lion Day -- takes place on August 10. 

The African Lion & Environmental Research Trust, or ALERT, a conservation and restoration charity, is one of the organizations that will help to kick off the event.  The non-profit organization said the lion is a national icon in Africa.  But the lion population has plummeted 80 to 90 percent since 1975 due to a growing human population and illegal poaching. 

World Lion Day aims to highlight their plight.
ALERT said the cats are an important component of the food chain, helping to keep animal populations in balance, and they said there is an overwhelming need for reintroducing disease-free lions back into the wild. Many countries depend on lions for millions of dollars in tourism annually.

ALERT aims to generate long-term solutions
so African communities and wildlife can live in harmony.  The NGO is the first to successfully introduce designated areas for the protection and rehabilitation of lions. 

David Youldon is the Chief Operating Officer, COO, for ALERT.  “World Lion Day was an idea based around our experience that when we’re talking about lions with people, so few people appreciate that this is a species that is under severe threat.  There are certainly people suggesting that they could go extinct in the next 10 to 20 years, and we were looking for a way to try and raise awareness of the issue, and call for people to support individuals and organizations, so that in Africa and in India as well-- to try and save the species,” explained Youldon, who also pointed out that several problems are putting lion survival at risk.

“Lions are faced with many threats, but the biggest one is the loss of their habitat, as humans continue to encroach on the land that the lions need, even into protected areas.  And that’s coupled with a loss of the food source for lions, and humans are poaching out many of the species on which lions rely.  Once you have those two things come together, habitat loss and prey-based depletion, lions are being forced into conflict with people,” said Youldon. 

The conflict is often seen when lions attack livestock, which provokes herders to retaliate.  The COO said it is a conflict that lions simply can’t win.  

“These lion populations that are left are now isolated from each other.  So, they’re becoming inbred because there’s no natural gene flow between populations.  There are disease threats, and that seems to be increasing as humans and our livestock interact with wild animals more frequently.  And it will probably become more of an issue as climate change affects how diseases transfer within populations,” he explained.     

As predators, lions keep the natural balance by killing the old and sick of their prey.  Youldon also emphasized the impact this predation has on the wild life population.

“They also actually control the number of animals of some other species.  For example, zebra and buffalo are very dominant herbivore species, and their numbers are mostly controlled by [predators], rather than natural death or death and disease.  If those species are not being controlled by lions, then their numbers can grow, and they can start to out compete other herbivore species. Therefore you get a loss of overall biodiversity within an area.  Without lions, those smaller predators can increase in number and cause an even greater conflict with humans than lions do because they live in much higher densities than lions do.”

Youldon stressed that lions are revered throughout many cultures around the world, making them an economic benefit the economy through tourism.

He explained that “most people coming to Africa,  that is the one animal that they want to make sure that they see.  So an area with lions draws tourism.  The lion is also culturally important, not just within Africa, not just in India where they currently exist, but the lion is a key symbol for so many cultures whether they’re American, or British, or German, or French, or Chinese, you’ll find the lion very deeply held within almost every culture on earth.” 

ALERT and its partners will spend the coming months drumming up attention and support for World Lion Day which will be celebrated on August 10 in Livingstone, Zambia.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid