The African lion is being pushed off the planet by humankind. Put it another way, it has been projected that within 40 years humankind will have wiped out the African lion, in the wild, if we carry on as we are. There simply hardly enough space left in Africa for the lion and the situation is rapidly deteriorating. Its habitat has been decimated and utterly fragmented over the preceding hundred years. The rate of despoliation of habitat is accelerating.
View Lion Range 2009 in a larger map
Because of a much reduced habitat the lion sometimes wanders into human settlements such as the suburbs of Nairobi where rather than being captured and relocated they are shot. Why should the authorities shoot lions who walk into suburbia when they are so endangered? The answer is that there is nowhere to put them which is safe any more, so they’re simply shot instead.
Why and what?
So why is humankind pushing the lion off the planet in Africa? Well, it’s because of a human population explosion in sub-Saharan Africa which has led to growing competition with lions for land. Humans simply cannot control their breeding. People complain about out of control feral cat breeding, well this is an example of humans doing the same thing but with a far more devastation effect.
It isn’t just about competition for land, though. There is poaching and farmers kill lions who kill their livestock because lions are forced to live on farmland because there is nowhere else for them to live.
In Africa, they have reached the bizarre situation where the money raised by a hunting lions helps to maintain reserves in which lions are protected. So you have to kill lions to save lions which I find utterly bizarre. It is the kind of human distortion and madness which seems to be accompanying wildlife conservation nowadays. There is still a thriving trade in canned lion hunting which devalues the lion. It becomes a commercial product to be used and abused.
Also, there is a gradual decimation of natural habitat because of commercial activity. You get more people who are more commercially active which creates a sort of double whammy against the survivability of the African lion. China is also very active Africa, fuelling increased commercial activity and I suspect poaching.
The number of African lions, in the wild, has dropped by more than 50% in the past three decades. There are an estimated 30,000 remaining today.
About 70% of the remaining lions live in only 10 regions in southern and eastern Africa. Lions in other regions such as West Africa have been almost wiped out.
In another bizarre twist of wildlife conservation, where lions thrive they face another threat from conservationists trying to protect other endangered species such as the rhino and a rare species of zebra. Lions kill rhino calves which threaten the species’ survival. As a result, conservationists are considering neutering male lions to stop them breeding! This is speciesism.
This is another almost ridiculous state of affairs and it does not address the underlying issue that rhino horn is a reason why the rhino is poached in Africa. Rhino horn is shipped out to China where it is eaten in order to give men a better erection! How mad does the world have to become before we wake up to what we are doing?
There’s an interesting and surprising benefit to the dire state of affairs regarding the African lion’s survival. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed listing lions under the American Endangered Species Act because analysts have warned that they are in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.
“Demographers believe the human population in sub-Saharan Africa will double by 2050….Unless things improve lives will face extinction. It’s up to us and not just the people of Africa to ensure that lions will continue to roam.” (Daniel Ashe director of USFWS)
If the African lion is listed as suggested it would make it illegal for Americans to kill or hunt captive lions without a permit or to sell lions or lion parts.
It will also become much harder for big-game hunters from America to import lion trophies from Africa. Hunters will have to prove that the lions had been killed in an area with a “scientifically sound” approach to managing lions. It is already illegal to import lion trophies into Australia.
This, at least, is to be welcomed because to be brutally honest the number of lions in the USA and the way they are shipped around and used and abused or kept in backyard zoo’s is not conducive to successful lion conservation. It totally undermines it, in fact, and I’m pleased that the US authorities have decided that they have to play their part in trying to remove the threat of extinction of the African lion.
The truth of the matter is that humankind has to decide whether it really does want to have lions living in the wild on the planet. Clearly, at present, that is not the case. People are simply disinterested. Big business and human population explosion and a disregard as to how that affects wildlife take precedence over everything.
Warning articles like this about impending extinction of species actually does very little to change the inevitable course which sadly is the foreseeable extinction of the African lion in the wild on the continent of Africa.
It is not just lions, rhino, elephant and other iconic species are equally threatened. The situation is becoming desperate.