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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid