Saturday 02 April 2016 | 0

A world without lions ?

50 years ago, there were still 450,000 lions around the world. In 2015 there were only some 20,000 lions left in Africa and 500 in India, in Gujarat. The last five lions in Iran – a female and her young – were killed in 1963 and their massacre celebrated by the national media. At this rate and if nothing is done, our children will grow up in a world without lions, apart from a few inbred and psychotic specimens exhibited in zoos.

Hr blog

50 years ago, there were still 450,000 lions around the world. In 2015 there were only some 20,000 lions left in Africa and 500 in India, in Gujarat. The last five lions in Iran – a female and her young – were killed in 1963 and their massacre celebrated by the national media. At this rate and if nothing is done, our children will grow up in a world without lions, apart from a few inbred and psychotic specimens exhibited in zoos.

These big cats are under threat from all sides : trophy hunting, canned hunts, poaching, poisoning, habitat loss, being caught for zoos, and the demand for lion bones for Chinese traditional medicine, are now pushing them to the very edge of extinction.

Several African countries allow trophy hunting, of which Cecil the lion was one of the most recent victims. The revenue from permits finances conservation programmes, but these are precisely the countries where the lion population is in steepest decline. This barbarous recreation, restricted to the well-off, kills far more than just the individual lion whose head is cut off to adorn the drawing room, for when a big male is killed, his entire pride is left unsettled and unprotected.

But hunting wild lions is expensive and there is the risk of returning empty-handed, so some choose an easier solution : canned hunting. In South Africa captive lions are raised by hand in fenced-in locations. Being tame, they are effortlessly killed by trophy hunters who are too lazy or too busy. Bones removed from the carcasses of these lions are sold in Asia for Chinese traditional medicine. They can be exported legally, since lions are not included in Appendix 1 of CITES. Between 2003 and 2012, some 6,782 trophies were exported from South Africa, as well as tonnes of bones and hides. It is feared that this legal trade provides cover for smuggling of bones from wild lions.

The expansion of agriculture in Africa leads to territory loss for wild animals and a shortage of prey. So they attack farm animals, leading to a vicious circle of farmers protecting their livestock by shooting or poisoning lions.

Finally, zoos and circuses regularly obtain wild lions and subject them to a life of boredom and confinement to entertain the public. The exact number of captive big cats in Europe is not known, a serious reporting omission for these populations. In the USA alone the numbers are estimated at close to 10,000 tigers, panthers, pumas and lions imprisoned.

Hr blog

In the subject

Loud gun shots to force frightened wolves from their sanctuary
Emergency in Norway: a death sentence for half of the wolves!

Comments 0

I accept that publication of my comments is subject to the code of conduct.