Save our Species: Lion Megan Sek

  • Specific name: Panthera Leo
  • Common name: Lion
Male lion - top two images, female lion - bottom left image.

Outside sub-Saharan Africa, the Lion formerly ranged from Northern Africa through Southwest Asia. Lions disappeared from most of these countries within the last 150 years. They also ranged into west Europe, where they became extinct almost 2,000 years ago. Now, Lions are almost all secluded to a large region in southern Africa. In the 1940's, lion populations estimated around 450,000. In total, their populations have decreased a total of 42% in only 21 years. Now, there are as little as 20,000 currently living and in 1996, lions were declared vulnerable by the IUCN.

In the image above, you can see the range of the Lion as mostly southern and western Africa, while the Asian Lions, who are subspecies of the same species as African Lions, still populate a small portion of the Gir Forest in India.

What threatens this species?

One threat to lion species is climate change. In 1994 and 2001, experts say that lions underwent large distemper outbreaks that caused major die-offs. Researchers found that the key environmental factor in these epidemics was the occurrence of a severe drought caused by climate change. Specifically, as much as 30 percent of the lions in Serengeti National Park died from distemper.

Lions also face habitat loss caused by humans. As we continue to settle and build more buildings and roads, we are inhibiting Lion's habitats.

Lions also face the threat of human hunters. They are being killed in rituals of bravery, as hunting trophies, and for their perceived medicinal and magical powers by humans.

These threats cause the total population of lions to go down steadily over time.

When lions hunt together, they can hunt larger animals like small elephants and buffalo. When lions hunt alone, they hunt smaller animals such as wildebeest and impala. Occasionally, males attempt to hunt lion cubs.

Lions play an important role in the food chain, they help regulate numbers of the more dominant herbivore species, like zebra and buffalo. Without lions to control them, these species can out-compete other animals, causing their extinction and reducing biodiversity.

Lions live in open woodlands, thick bush, scrub and grasses, even living in deserts and along bodies of water like rivers. They mostly stay in their habitats throughout the year but move in prides throughout Africa with other lions.
Some of the many organizations designed to protect lions and African wildlife.

There are many conservation acts and organizations out there to help protect the Lion species. The money that is donated or raised by these organizations goes to research on the animals and to help raise awarness on the cause. These efforts help to minimize human hunting, encourage breeding among the cats as well as help preserve their habitats.

Thank you!

Credits:

Created with images by Aboeka - "lions zoo animal" • designerpoint - "lion predator big cat" • thomaspedrazzoli - "lion safari lioness" • Steve Slater (used to be Wildlife Encounters) - "lion cub"

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