In honor of World Lion Day I’d like to share my thoughts about the unfortunate death of Cecil, the lion recently killed by a trophy hunter in Zimbabwe. Cecil was one of Zimbabwe’s most iconic and well-loved lions. I believe everything happens for a reason and believe Cecil’s death, as sad as it is, has renewed the concern for a species that is at the tipping point for extinction.
The biggest threats to lions today are habitat loss, human wildlife conflicts, and trophy or sport hunting. Twenty years ago lion populations were estimated at 250,000 and today their numbers have plummeted to around 25,000. This figure is even debatable by experts and not in their favor.
Trophy hunting has detrimental consequences because big game hunters usually go after the biggest males. When male lions are killed the entire pride suffers and the genetics of that pride are lost forever. As the animals diminish in numbers the selection process gets more refined and there is more targeting of the few decent specimens left.
Cecil’s death will not be in vain and there are things you can do which do not require spending any money.
Lobby and write to your States senator, and insist that the petition to have lions placed on the endangered species protection list in the USA goes through. If you do not reside in the USA support the EU ban on the importation of hunting trophies.
If you would like to contribute financially there are three organizations that I support that help protect the lives of lions.
The Robyn Gianni Foundation is committed to the conservation and protection of Africa’s wildlife and supportive programs throughout the world to help endangered species. The foundations purpose is to provide financial support to programs, which work in preserving wildlife in their natural habitats.
Tanzanian Lion Illumination Project was founded by Patti Vaughn. This organization is helping the Maasai in Tanzania by installing lights in their villages to keep lions from killing their livestock. Patti and Capture Africa Tours are working together to run tours and have participants who join us install lights in the Maasai villages. The first of many tours will take place in the summer of 2016.
Big Life Foundation implemented what is called today the Predator Compensation Fund. The raising of livestock in Maasailand is a vital activity for the community’s subsistence. Consequently, predators are under constant threat from livestock owners who view them as a danger to their livestock and kill them in retribution for livestock losses. Retaliatory killing is the major threat to Africa’s lion population today – the population is currently suffering a precipitous decline in numbers.