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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid