African countries need to strengthen protection of lions without delay amid threats to their survival linked to aggravating situation related to pandemic criis, reflecting in rise absence of tourims, and rising of poaching, conservationists said on ahead of World Lions Dayobserved on August 10.
Edith Kabesiime, wildlife campaign manager at World Animal Protection, said that African lions were facing human and nature induced threats hence the need to prioritize their protection.
“We have witnessed the population of lions in Africa declined in the last decades as human beings occupy their habitat,” Kabesiime said at a virtual briefing in Nairobi.
The conservationist said that World Lions Day offers an opportunity to raise awareness on the emerging threats of poisoning big cats by livestock keepers and poaching to satisfy the overseas traditional healers demands.
“There is a need to raise awareness on the plight of lions even as we celebrate them as Africa’s iconic species,” said Kabesiime.
Statistics from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) displays the dramatic decline of Africa’s lion population from 200,000 in the last century to the current 20,000.
Kabesiime said that currently, lions exist in 26 African countries adding that the continent has lost about 90% of the carnivore from its original habitat amid rapid urbanization.
She said that the African lion has been categorized by IUCN as a vulnerable species amid international trade in its claws and jaws to meet a rising demand for traditional natural healers and jewelry.
“The other challenge facing lion conservation is illegal bushmeat and poisoning by farmers as a deterrent measure against attack on livestock,” said Kabesiime.
The shrinking of prey base for African lions linked to massive hunting by local communities, has increased their risk of death through starvation, Kabesiime has underlined.
The industrialised captive breeding of lions that has intensified in some parts of Africa also represents a threat to their survival, causing degeneration.
The scientists urged African governments to support innovative lions’ conservation programs that focus on expanding their prey base while minimizing conflict with humans.
Kabesiime said that a complex of measures as a ban on international trade in lion’s products coupled with enforcement of laws to deter poaching will help reverse their declining numbers in Africa.