World Lion Day: Contribute to their survival!

tan 12 sg lion on treeCecil the lion’s death in Zimbabwe at the hands of overzealous hunters has resulted in a sudden awakening to the plight of the endangered lion. Yes, the lion is endangered, and some estimates show that these magnificent “simbas” could be extinct as soon as 2020. Yes, 2020. 5 years from now. There are only 20,000 to 30,000 lions left in all of Africa. Since the 1950s lion numbers have dropped from 450,000 to approximately 25,000 left in the wild. And sadly, we continue to kill them.

In 2010 Derek Joubert wrote an article for NatGeo and founded the Big Cats Initiative. 5 years ago he wrote, “People have shot, speared, trapped and poisoned lions relentlessly. We have chopped up their habitat, introduced diseases and, lately, we’ve begun to change the climate they—and the rest of us—live in. Most of all, we are swamping them by our sheer numbers. The 20,000 lions cling to the last remaining habitat our 7 billion people have not yet got to.” (http://www.defenders.org/magazine/fall-2010/can-we-save-lions)

Photo credit Randy Minton.

Photo credit Randy Minton.

tan 12 sg lion pride drinking

A pride in the Serengeti. Photo by Randy Minton.

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We came across this pride as they were having a drink and taking a rest.

To those who say that trophy hunting a few lions helps their conservation, Joubert points out “Each year an average of about 500 lion trophies or skins enter the United States from trophy hunting in Africa. If you do the math, you quickly see that this is not sustainable. Because male lions operate in coalitions of two or three, each male lion that is shot leaves the remaining male outmatched in the next territorial fight, and he is expelled. There is no future for expelled lions, so one license effectively kills two males. At the same time his eight females (on average) and their 24 cubs are left without defenders. The new alpha males are genetically wired to kill all cubs and start the breeding process again with their genes. So one license is really cleaning out between 20 and 30 lions each time—and if Americans are responsible for 500 of those licenses, they are effectively killing lions at an enormous rate.” Zimbabwe has sighed with relief that Jericho, Cecil’s brother, has allowed Cecil’s cubs to live, probably because they are from the same gene pool.

Serengeti, Tanzania, scenting. Photo credit to Randy Minton.

Serengeti, Tanzania, scenting. Photo credit to Randy Minton.

The King at night in Sabi Sands. Photo Credit to Alexandra Minton, The Purple Pebble Photography.

The King at night in Sabi Sands. Photo Credit to Alexandra Minton, The Purple Pebble Photography.

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A beautiful lioness in Sabi Sabi. Photo by Alexandra Minton.

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The King of the Bush feels free to nap wherever he wants to.

What’s the big deal, you may ask. Why do we need lions, anyway? Lions in Asia are down to 300 in the wild, so they will be extinct very soon. Didn’t know lions extended into India? Well, they don’t anymore. If we lose our apex predators in the wild the prey numbers become larger and larger. They overgraze their environment which can cause soil erosion. The habitat is now covered in weeds and not supporting the larger herbivore populations. The population collapses.

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Two lion cubs who are very close to sexual maturity in Zimbabwe, 2009.

ally sabi 09 lion pride

Lions are social animals, living in prides of up to 20 lions.

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A bit of a yawn before plopping back down to nap.

Pretty Kitty, Zimbabwe. Photo Credit Alexandra Minton of The Purple Pebble Photography.

Pretty Kitty, Zimbabwe. Photo Credit Alexandra Minton of The Purple Pebble Photography.

And don’t forget, 80 billion dollars a year goes into Africa for safari tourism. Seeing lions in the wild is at the top of the list for tourists on safari. They won’t fork over huge amounts of money if there are no lions to see, which will collapse the economy which many African nations are dependent on. A live lion is worth a lot more than a dead one.

The King of the Jungle napping in Sabi Sands.

The King of the Jungle napping in Sabi Sands, Kruger National Park, South Africa.                                                                                                                                                                                                            Photo by Alexandra Minton of The Purple Pebble.

So what can we do? We can support lion conservation foundations like Big Cat Initiative. Please click on the link to see how you can help. Other organizations can be found by clicking on Who to Support: World Lion Day. The whole world has expressed horror at the death of Cecil in Zimbabwe. Save his species by clicking on the above links!

tan 12 sg lion pride members

A pride in the Serengeti.

tan 12 sg lions at car

They walk right through the land rovers on safari without even looking.

tan 12 sg lioness and cubs on branches

A mother and her cubs.

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About the Author ()

I am an avid scuba diver, underwater photographer, amateur historian; interested in all people and cultures. For me, the unexpected is usually the norm! My motto? I am an Empty Nester who likes to Renew, Revamp, and Reinvent Life! Contact me at travelswithtam@gmail.com

Comments (10)

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  1. Such beautiful creatures. I’ve always loved big cats and hope that this renewed interest in endangered species will save them. They’re so regal.

  2. Thanks for writing a well-researched and thoughtful response in the wake of Cecil’s death. It’s horrible that he was lured our of a preserve and killed for sport. I didn’t like the violent outrage aimed at the dentist. Conservation awareness is so much more appropriate and productive. Wonderful photos — the best kind of wildlife trophies to secure.

    • Tam Warner says:

      My husband and daughter took the lion photos…I’m better underwater. Of course I don’t approve of threatening the dentist, but I sure would support his extradition to Zimbabwe. We have to start having no tolerance for this.

  3. Kimba says:

    I had no idea that lions were on the endangered species list. Such majestic creatures.
    Kimba recently posted…Once Again, With FeelingMy Profile

  4. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Cecil’s murder was devastating. I will never, ever understand killing animals for sport. My hope is that this crime will continue to spark an uproar and change hunting laws. I believe Costa Rica just outlawed hunting for sport.

  5. Carolann says:

    What stunning photos! You always manage to wow me with them. I am still so terribly upset over what happened to Cecil…it’s just so heartbreaking. Thanks for bringing more awareness to this!
    Carolann recently posted…5 Designer Must Haves That Will Wipe Your Wallet CleanMy Profile

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