It is estimated there are only 20,000 lions left in the wild, with approximately 2,500 of these found in Kenya including some 80 in Meru. Unfortunately, lion populations are decreasing globally, due to threats including a loss of habitat as human populations expand and conflict with humans resulting in the poisoning, shooting, or snaring of lions. The population monitored by Born Free in Meru since 2014 is a vital stronghold for lions.
Prides vary greatly in size, but can include up to three male lions, around a dozen female lions, and their young, which are raised co-operatively. Typically, the lionesses in the pride will be related to one another, with the female cubs staying with the group with other female lions for life. Young males leave the pride, often in small cohorts, and live a wandering existence until they may succeed in establishing a pride of their own by driving out and replacing the current male lion.
Lion populations face a risk of extinction from numerous threats, including habitat loss due to encroachment by humans. Livestock farmers may use poisons, rifles and snares to remove lions from their land. In addition, prey species have been depleted by the bushmeat trade, and lion populations have become increasingly fragmented as a consequence. In some countries it is still legal to shoot lions for sport.
Our focus is on providing lions with the best possible lifetime care at our sanctuaries, in South Africa and Ethiopia, where wild lions and those freed from captivity or the illegal wildlife trade are housed in large, naturally-landscaped enclosures where lions are free to express their natural behaviour.
The Global White Lion Protection Trust is a registered NPO situated in a protected area of endemic bushveld in the Greater Timbavati, South Africa. The White Lion Trust has successfully re-introduced white lions into their natural habitat in a carefully phased, ground-breaking scientific program. The White Lions have integrated with wild golden lions, and now several prides now roam freely in their ancestral heritage lands.
This is another huge commitment for our young sanctuary, where we are still in urgent need of donations for equipment and facilities such as vehicles, tools, and more habitats. Kesari could be in our care for 20 years, during which time he may once again become part of a pride. It is a story that will have a very, very different ending to what might have been.To help care for this handsome young lion for life, donate here.You can also be one of the first to adopt Kesari here.
Lions are the second largest cat species, behind the tiger. Lions are tawny in color with dark tufts of hair at the ends of their tails. Lions are sexually dimorphic, meaning there is a visual difference between males and females. Male lions sport a mane (a ruff of hair) around their necks and females do not. It is believed that male lions have these manes to attract females. Studies have shown that the bigger, darker, and thicker the mane, the more attractive they are to females; these traits are attributed to having more testosterone in their system. Lions are also the only social cats, living in family groups called prides. Prides can be as few as a couple of lions and as many as 40 lions. All females in a pride are related and a pride will not let an unrelated female join.
Lions have long been killed as part of tribal rituals and for their supposed medicinal and magical powers; it is feared that they may replace tigers as sources of ingredients for Chinese medicines. Lions are also threatened by burgeoning human populations. As human population grows into lion habitat, lions lose their range and also become targets for poisoning and poaching by livestock ranchers. Trophy hunting is another threat to their well-being, with white lions being especially popular in canned hunting.
Lions are the only cat to live in family groups. Although there are occasional scuffles between pride members, they rarely last long. Most of the time, lions in prides can be seen showing affection for each other. All female lions in the pride help care for the cubs and males will help protect the cubs as well. Lions spend the majority of their day sleeping, hunting mostly at night. Lions are very strategic when they hunt, with all members of a hunting party having a specific role to fill.
Unlike other cats, lions are very social animals. They live in groups, called prides, of around 30 lions. A pride consists of up to three males, a dozen related females, and their young. The size of the pride is determined by the availability of food and water. If resources are scarce, the pride becomes smaller.
Males and females take on very different roles in the pride. Male lions spend their time guarding their territory and their cubs. They maintain the boundaries of their territory, which can be as large as 260 sq. km (100 sq. mi.), by roaring, marking it with urine, and chasing off intruders. Their thick manes, a unique trait to male lions, protect their necks when they fight with challengers.
Vulnerable to predators like hyenas, leopards, and black-backed jackals, cubs have a 60-70% mortality rate. They are sometimes trampled by large animals like buffaloes. Furthermore, when another group of male lions takes over a pride, they kill all the cubs so they can sire their own with the lionesses.
Female cubs stay with the group as they age. At around two years old, they become capable hunters. But young males are forced out of the pride at that age. They form bachelor groups and follow migrating herds until they are strong enough to challenge male lions of other prides. In general, a group of males stays in power in the pride for around three years before another bachelor group takes it over.
African lions are considered vulnerable of extinction by the IUCN Red List. They are threatened by loss and fragmentation of habitat. They are also killed by humans in bravery rituals, as hunting trophies, for medicinal powers, or by ranchers protecting their livestock. Furthermore, they are susceptible to tick-borne diseases like canine distemper and babesia. Distemper is spread to lions by neighboring village dogs as well as hyenas. Babesia occurs during droughts, when malnourished prey is vulnerable to disease. The ticks spread to the lions after they kill the sick animal. The combination of distemper and babesia causes mass fatalities in lion populations.
There are estimated to be between 23,000 and 39,000 mature lions left in the wild. This iconic species was once found across Africa, Europe, and Asia, but due to poaching and habitat loss, lions now occupy only 20% of their historic range. Yet, thanks to the work of conservation charities, populations are now on the rise in several countries including Zambia and South Africa. So we had to ask: What are the best charities for protecting lions
What they do: The Big Cats Initiative offers grants to conservationists working on projects to protect big cats and their habitats, including Botswana and Kenya where lion-human conflict is prevalent. They also offer classroom and education resources, as well as Big Cats Programs, to educate and inspire the next generation of conservationists. Their Zambian Carnivore Program teaches school-age children in local communities how to track lions in the wild, conduct surveys, and assist conservation efforts for these magnificent cats.
What they do: Born Free Foundation works with local communities around the globe to mitigate human-animal conflict. In addition, they manage 12 sanctuaries for rescued wild animals that were previously living in unsuitable and abusive captive environments. These include the Shamwari Big Cat Sanctuary in East Cape, Africa, which is currently home to 12 lions. They also run regular campaigns to end the use of lions and other wild animals in the entertainment industry, as well as trophy hunting, canned lion hunting, and the wildlife trade.
What they do: The African Lion & Environmental Research Trust follows a multidisciplinary approach to conservation; working on the ground to protect lions, their prey items, and the habitats they live in. They also engage with local communities through their classroom support initiatives at their protected Antelope park, to inspire the next generation of conservationists. Their Lion Release Program involves hand-raising captive lion cubs to prepare them for release into the fenced and managed wild park. They also conduct regular wildlife studies to track populations of lions, elephants, giraffes, and hyenas.
Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, the Kevin Richardson Foundation spent 58% of its income on habitat health, 25% on anti-poaching efforts, and 11% on protecting wild lions.
The first true lion probably padded over the earth about 600,000 years ago, and its descendants eventually ruled a greater range than any other wild land mammal. They penetrated all of Africa, except for the deepest rain forests of the Congo Basin and driest parts of the Sahara, and every continent save Australia and Antarctica. There were lions in Great Britain, Russia and Peru; they were plentiful in Alaska and the habitat known today as downtown Los Angeles.
In addition to human threats, lion cubs are facing the biggest danger within their own species. The mortality rate of lion cubs is as high as 80%, due to the hierarchical structure among big cats. Even though male lions do not hunt, they are the leaders of the pride and get to eat first. Afterward, the lionesses eat, and the leftovers are for the cubs. Food shortage is a major contributor to infant mortality.
Seeing lions roam wild in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will never forget. That alone is reason enough for many people to pack their bags and volunteer with lions in Africa. 59ce067264