100 years ago, 200,000 lions lived across the African continent.
Today, we are in the sorry position where less than 20,000 remain. They have been extirpated form 26 countries, owing to habitat loss, conflict with people and poaching.
But conservation organisation African Parks have good news.
They have been able to make important headway in restoring and safeguarding African lions, thanks to their supporters and government partners.
Effective park management, law enforcement, species-specific interventions including reintroduction and translations, and investing in education and local communities have enabled African Parks to create safe havens for lions and other wildlife. They have been able to breed and raise their young. In short, they have the conditions they need to survive and thrive.
Back in 2015, 7 lions were introduced back to the Akagera National Park
In Benin, in the Pendjari National Park, they are protecting 100 of the 400 remaining critically endangered West African Lions. Thanks to the support from the Lion Recovery Fund, they have collard 10 individuals so that their tracking teams could monitor the lions and better protect them.
In 2003 when African Parks took on the management of Liuwa Plain. At that time there was only one lioness, known as Lady Liuwa. Illegal hunting had killed off all the other lions. Together with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, African Parks undertook a series of translocations to help restore her pride. Lady Liuwa sadly died in 2017, but her legacy exists in a small but growing pride of lions.
Lions in Malawi
Meantime in the Majete, Malawi, working with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), African Parks reintroduced lions in 2012 after they had been hunted out in the 1990’s. Rhinos, elephants and 2,900 other animals were also reintroduced. Thus the reserve was the first Big Five destination in Malawi. Today, thanks to law enforcement efforts and community work, the reserve is flourishing and helping to repopulate other reserves in the country.
In 2018, together with the People's Postcode Lottery, the Dutch Government, the Lion Recovery Fund and the DNPW, African Parks reintroduced nine lions (seven from South Africa and two from Majete) to Liwonde National Park, also in Malawi. Lions had been absent there for at least 20 years.
This just shows how political action, donor support and local community collaboration can lead to the return of Africa’s lions – and the lions themselves can create a host of other benefits to everyone, on a local and regional basis.