World Lion Day
Updated: May 21, 2020
One of Africa's most iconic mammals and one that is synonymous with wild Africa, is the lion. Tales of these mighty beasts are told in ancient art and historic literature. There are movies and fairytales that tell stories of these powerful creatures and they seem to have a long history alongside the human race.
Lions have been around since the Ice Age and historically ranged across Africa, Eurasia, the Indian subcontinent and the Americas from the Yukon to modern-day Peru. The modern day lion is thought to have first appeared 100,000 years ago in East and Southern Africa. A century ago there were roughly 200 000 lions roaming the African continent. Today, the sad reality facing lions is the threat of extinction. It is estimated that there are now around 20,000 lions left in the wild and the species is considered Vulnerable on the IUCN RED LIST STATUS.
Information from Panthera tells us that "lions are extinct in 26 African countries and have vanished from over 95 percent of their historic range. Though lions still exist in 28 African countries and one Asian country, only six countries are known to each contain more than 1,000 lions."
There are many reasons for the decline in the global lion population but the most notable ones are habitat loss, fragmentation, unsustainable trophy hunting practices, prey based depletion due to loss of habitat and human-wildlife conflict. These threats are likely to intensify with climate change and the rapidly increasing human population, predicted to double in Africa by the year 2050.
Every year on the 10th of August, the world celebrates World Lion Day. An initiative that was founded by an organisation called Big Cat Rescue. The purpose of World Lion Day is to raise awareness for these majestic cats, but at the same time to celebrate them.
As apex predators, lions have enormous ecological value and their removal or local extinction from an ecosystem would have a significant and negative ecological effect. Culturally their species is significant and it is undoubtedly apparent that they are one of the greatest draw factors to any guest travelling on safari to Africa.
Imagine a world without lions, imagine visiting Africa and knowing that you will not see a male lion roaring over the plains or picture our future generations not having the ability to see a beautiful lion in the wild and only in photo-books or in a zoo? This terrible thought could soon become a reality if we do not take action and begin to raise awareness on the plight of this iconic species.
“Protected areas are at the heart of the formula to save Africa’s lions, and to ensure the species lives on, lions and their wild landscapes require nothing short of a wealthy and immediate investment from the global community," - Dr. Paul Funston, Southern Africa Regional Director, Panthera.
Today we celebrate the Lion, Panthera Leo, and we hope to enlighten our readers, followers and guests about the importance of conserving lions. In order to do this we need to educate people about their plight, we need to conserve wild spaces and we need to act fast!
Happy World Lion Day.