Silver Lining for Lions of West Africa (Panthera)

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It was recently reported that there are less than 400 wild lions in West Africa. In this story, Panthera talks about a possible “silver lining” for this critically endangered species. The Silver Lining for the Lions of West Africa was originally published at Panthera.org on February 13, 2014.

PANTHERA: In a press release published last month, Panthera outlined the results of a new report confirming that lions are now Critically Endangered and face extinction across the entire region of West Africa.

Led by Panthera’s Lion Program Survey Coordinator, Dr. Philipp Henschel, the study required a massive survey effort extending across 21 parks and 11 countries over a six year period. The results, unfortunately, are somber: today fewer than 400 lions remain in four isolated populations in West Africa, with only 250 of these being breeding adult lions.

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Lion Population Declining in Uganda

declining african lion population in uganda

In an article written in the Oryx journal, researchers are reporting that the African lion population in Uganda has decreased more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.  Reasons for the decline include

“…poisoning by local cattle herders, retaliation for livestock predation and other  human-related conflicts.”

Read more about the declining lion population at:  http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2013/10/24/Conservationists-warn-of-decline-in-lion-numbers-in-Uganda/UPI-62601382643564/#ixzz2iklxrZmw

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Rihanna Visits South African Lion Park

Rihanna Visits South African Lion Park

Rihanna visits Lion Park in South Africa before performing at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

The Lion Park is a breeding ground and sanctuary for African wildlife, with a focus on the Wild Dog, white lion and cheetah. The lions in the park come from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Northern Gauteng and Botswana. There are currently 80 lions in the park.

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New Article by Author David Quammen on African Lion Conservation

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According to a new article on African lion conservation by science and nature writer David Quammen, recent surveys and estimates indicate an 80% decline in lions throughout Africa, with the remaining lions currently living in approximately 70 different areas. “But the smallest contain only tiny populations, isolated, genetically limited, and lacking viability for the long term,” notes Quammen.

Quammen states various causes of the decline, including:

  • Habitat loss
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Poaching of lion prey for bush meat
  • Poaching snares that catch lions instead
  • Displacement of lion prey by livestock
  • Disease
  • Spearing and killing of lions
  • Tribal ritual killings
  • Trophy hunting

He discusses possible solutions to the problem, such as the controversial fencing strategies suggested by ecologist Craig Packer, a professor at the University of Minnesota and director of the Lion Research Center.  Parker claims that “few African nations can invest adequately in the management of the parks,” and that while fencing could destroy some migratory ecosystems, it would protect and save a much higher percentage of lions due to significantly reduced management costs.

Quammen also talks about a reduction in lion killings following the 2007 implementation of the Maasai Lion Guardian program, a Living with Lions project. Lion killing has been a Maasai “rites of passage” tradition.  The Lion Guardian program recruits and trains Maasai warriors to protect the lions instead of killing them.

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New Report on Reintroduction of African Lions into the Wild

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A new report on African lion conservation, A Framework for the Ex-situ Reintroduction of the African Lion, has been published by Jackie Abell of Lancaster University in collaboration with the African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT). The report provides an overview of successful and unsuccessful efforts to reintroduce captive-bred African lions into the wild.

Although off-site management of threatened species is not uncommon, there has been on-going debate about reintroduction programs and strategies.

Report recommendations include:

  • An initiative to re-study previous ex-situ (off-site) reintroductions in order to develop a framework for future African lion conservation strategies.
  • Captive breeding programs that follow internationally recognized veterinary, animal husbandry and ethical standards.
  • The need for pre-release training of hand-raised lions, including regular daily walks, nighttime outings, the development of a pride structure and hunting skills, and exposure to competitive species.

According to an earlier report on African lion conservation published by the Ecology Letters scientific journal, as much as half of Africa’s wild lion population may decline to near extinction within the next 20 to 40 years.

 

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Lion and Tiger Corridors in India

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An article from National Geographic on the importance of lion and tiger corridors in India.

“Every day, little by little, our species is creating new islands. These are not islands in the sea. They are patches of forest, grassland, mountainside, and swamp that encompass what remains of the wild. Unlike islands dotted across the sea, though, there are sometimes pathways between these protected swaths that permit organisms to traverse the small percentage of their range that remains open to habitation. In the case of central India’s tigers and leopards, these wildlife corridors are critical for survival.”

You can read the entire story here.

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