In a Grand collaboration with National Geographic and the Big Cat Initiative, a couple, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, with a passion of Wild cats helped establish World Lion Day on August 10th in the year 2013. And the tradition of celebrating and protecting the remaining Lions have since begun.
Lions living in wild, as we know from the glory of Pride lands, are found in 28 African countries and also in the Western part of India in Gir National park. These immense creatures live as long as 12-13 years (Male) and 14-16 years (Female) and weigh as much as 180 kilos (Male) and 130 kilos (Female).
Category and Count
Although the lion population has been higher as compared to other big cats, the number alive has deteriorated catastrophically over the last few years. The current count has been estimated to be only a mere 20,000 in the wild and this is only 5% of the ones which were present before. Lions are currently listed as "Vulnerable" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The species is classified as "Critically Endangered” in West Africa now. Any further rapid reclines may see lions listed as “Endangered” across their range.
Threats and Vulnerabilities
Across the vast continent of Africa, lions have been eradicated from over 90% of their historic range in about 26 African countries and are now extinct. With the increase in the human population, lions have been pushed deeper into the forests. This increase has led to some serious trouble and is the reason lions are facing a serious threat.
The threats include. 1. Poaching, 2. Ceremonial Killing, 3. Human conflict and Habitat Loss.
Lions have consistently been targeted by poachers who kill them for their skin, claws, teeth, and bones. Yes, Ceremonial killing is still a thing. Lack of awareness has resulted in locals indulging in the killing of lions in ceremonial rites to demonstrate Manhood and Bravery. Human conflict and habitat loss are also among the main reasons for these creatures to get to this unreasonable state. But has there been any hope for bringing the lions back?
Through Project Leonardo, Panthera, an organization exclusively devoted to the preservation of wild cats, aims to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 individuals by 2030 by protecting and connecting key lion populations throughout their range in Africa. Lions are being secured by collaborating with local governments, communities, and NGOs. This organization works primarily to secure lions in key sites and limit trade in their prey and body parts, mitigating the risk of lions to livestock owners and influencing policy around the decision making and it also benefits the local people.
Raise Awareness and Educate
This is the best time to talk and raise awareness and it cannot and should not get anymore delayed. Lions are in danger and the current state is proof. It is great to see initiatives like World Lion Day and Project Leonardo come into effect. But everyone must do their parts. Organizations like WWF allow us to adopt animals virtually and nothing can be as helpful as contributing to these organizations that are working to their best and making a change. It is important to raise awareness. Share World Lion Day on social media platforms. Let us do our best and promote awareness. I said it once and I want it to stick, it is never too late, now will always be the best time to make a difference.
Author: Vishnu Kumar VH
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