The majestic Asiatic lion once roamed across Asia and the Middle East and Asia. But, by the early 1900s, the species had suffered from hunting – so much so that only about 20 remained in Western India.
Today, numbers are increasing and now there are about 600 Asiatic lions in the Gir Forest. The problem is that they are very vulnerable to forest fires and to disease.
ZSL is working with the Wildlife Institute of India and the Gujarat Forest Department to ensure the wonderful Asiatic Lion has a future.
4 ways ZSL are helping Asiatic Lions in the Gir Forest
Conservation support including training wildlife rangers and training them in using the SMART tool, which was developed by conservation organisations to establish effective patrolling systems, monitor wildlife populations and movements and identify threats such as poaching or disease
Veterinary support – lions have got stuck down wells and come into conflict with people, and the ZSL staff have taught vets vital lifesaving techniques such as how to intubate anaesthetised lions to help them breathe
Working with the Sakkarbaug Zoo where about 40 Asiatic Lions live – some have been injured too much to return to the wild or for other good reasons they live at the zoo. ZSL and the staff at the zoo share best practice and knowledge about the Asiatic Lions.
Education is vital to engage local communities and help them appreciate the importance of lion conservation.
Can I mention also the Lion Trust (who are specialist fund managers) who sponsor ZSL’s Asiatic Lions Campaign. We need more businesses to get involved like this. Thank you to the Lion Trust.
Namibia Lion Trust is working to protect the large carnivores of Namibia. It believes in conservation through education, aiming to create a peaceful existence between wildlife (especially the large carnivores) and local communities
The Namibia Lion Trust has been through a bit of a journey itself. It was launched in 2020, having been AfriCatNorth. AfriCat North was primarily the AfriCat Foundation field base for lion research, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and community support. The Trust’s slogan is For Lions, For Life and For Our Future, and it’s dedicated to lions. It’s Reg #T298/2019.
Livestock Protection – creating “bomas”, i.e. enclosures to keep large predators out and livestock safe inside
Early Warning and Rapid Response – Lion Guards elected by their own community to help mitigate the lion-human conflict. They identify hot spots, support with the erectionof bomas, install LionLights, patrol to protect wildlife and encourage greater tolerance of conflict with wildlife. They also share information about the whereabouts of wildlife with the research team conservancy committees and their communities.
Fence Boundary Programme in a human-wildlife conflict hot-spot area. It’s cattle proof but has fallen into disrepair – it was put up in the 1960s and needs to be reconstructed.
The 10th August is #WorldLionDay. For all their courage, strength, power and majestic look, lions are in trouble; their numbers have plummeted from 200,000 in the 1950s to what could be as few as 15,000 but why?
LionAid is an international organisation specifically dedicated to lion conservation. It says there are 5 reasons why lion numbers have plumeted.
Lion habitat is becoming farmland – so there is a lot of human/livestock conflict and also retaliation killings. As Africa’s human population has shot up, so wildlife have had to give their habitat up to humans. There's less prey about for lions to eat – so they have to turn to livestock.
Lions are susceptible to disease including canine distemper and bovine TB, plus FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) – in some populations this goes up to 90%. This is why programmes such as Kura’s Pride, is so important.
Trophy Hunting – it really saddens me that there are people who love to kill wildlife for sport, especially given the decline in lion numbers and the endangered status of species such as the Western African lions. Trophies are largely male lions – which makes it even harder for lions to reproduce. Take a look at BanTrophyHunting #BanTrophyHunting to see how you can help.
Lion breeding – South Africa has a very controversial programme to breed lions in captivity to produce a range of lion products. Of course, the supply of lion bones to Asia generates extra demand, so there are, say LionAid, verified reports of lion bones from both poached and trophy hunted animals) being sent to Asia from other lion range states too.
Saving the critically endangered Ethiopian lion – this is a new sub-species and it’s been identified from lions currently at the Addis Ababa zoo. There are about 200 or fewer wild lions still roaming round Ethiopia – they could be even more endangered than Western African lions and the Indian lion
When you shop, use the Giving Machine and choose LionAid as your charity. The GivingMachine gets a commission for referring customers to online shops. Buy something, and the GivingMachine receive a percentage of the total price - and it passes 70% of that to your chosen cause. Find out more here
World Lions’ Day is ROARING towards us (it’s on 10th August 2020) and in doing some research for this website to put up something about it, I have as always found myself getting very immersed in some of the fantastic work that charities are doing.
One of the amazing programmes I found out about today was about a very special dog called Kura and Kura’s Pride.
Kura lives with the team working with the charity Ewaso Lions, who promote wildlife-human co-existence. They believe "the long-term survival of lions and other carnivores depends on finding ways people can coexist with them".
Kura turned up in the charity’s camp on the day of the Kenyan National Elections back in 2013. He was lost and lame and looking for somewhere safe to stay. And 7 years on, he is still with the camp!
And now Kura is heading the Kura Pride initiative, which is working to improve domestic dog welfare in Northern Kenya.
During the period October 2019 and June 2020, Kura’s Pride and partners managed to vaccinate over 2,600 animals against rabies and distemper. These two disease harm people and wildlife so it’s a wonderful thing to get the jabs done.
This video tells you more about it. I was struck by how happy everyone looks, dogs and people.
Kura is the Director of Emotional Stability for the charity Ewaso Lions. As such, he warns everyone of poisonous snakes and leopards nearby, and of course he loudly announces any visitor to camp.
African Parks is creating safe havens for lions, increasing their range and bringing them back to places where they haven't existed for decades. They have been undertaking monitoring and research and mitigating human-lion conflict. For lions are found in 8 of the parks they manage.
Creating Safe Havens to Stop Lion Poaching. Protecting wildlife from poaching and other illegal activities is vital in the parks the organisation manages. It fenced Liwonde National Park, hired and trained a bigger and better equipped ranger unit and used technoloy to monitor wildlife and defeat poaching. It works to remove snares, and prevent wildlife-human conflict.
Investing in Education and Local Communities - African Parks employs locals and invests in education, and it attracts tourists. It knows that creating a relationship between people and lions is really important.
Reintroducing Lions to Historic Habitats - They were reintroduced to Akagera, Majete, and Liwonde after poachers had eliminated them from these areas. The park is assessed first to see how viable it is to bring key species back.
But the coronavirus is having a huge and devastating impact on conservation efforts across Africa, as tourism has collapsed and philanthropic giving has dropped.
A group of over 60 acclaimed wildlife photographers from around the world have got together to create a fundraising campaign to help protect critical ecosystems and local communities. It's called Prints for Wildlife. There are some simply incredible pictures there - do take a look and spread the word. So far, $300,000 have been raised. Prints for Wildlife runs from 26 July to 26 August 2020. All the funds collected via the print sale go directly to conservation non-profit African Parks.