A few days ago the conservation NGO Panthera shared an engaging video on their Facebook page. It is called Living with Lions, and I highly recommend you check it out.
Living with Lions is important because it touches on several key topics in a short amount of time. It starts off by calling attention to the dramatic decline of lion populations in the last few decades, which you can read more about here. It especially focuses on the lions of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. These lions, despite living in an excellent habitat, have not been reproducing well. Genetic studies have revealed that this is the result of inbreeding that has occurred due to the extreme isolation of Ngorongoro’s lions. This is one reason why it is so important for big cats to be able to move throughout a landscape: even the most well-protected populations can suffer from low genetic diversity.
According to Living with Lions, the reason for this isolation is that the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is surrounded by ever-increasing agricultural fields. The Ngorongoro’s lions are practically on an island in a sea of humanity. Unfortunately, many lion habitats are in a similar situation. One way to counter this is to construct wildlife corridors, which I have written about in relation to tigers. But as Living with Lions points out, Panthera leo (the scientific name for lions) is threatened by more than just habitat fragmentation.
Livestock can threaten lions in two main ways. First, excessive grazing can degrade the vegetation in an area and lower the densities of lions’ wild prey. In addition, predation on livestock is a major driver of human-lion conflict. Herders often kill lions in retaliation for the loss of their animals (although there are other motivations as well), which is a serious problem in some locations. Luckily, Living with Lions is not entirely negative.
The video also talks about the efforts of Ingela Jansson and Philip Henschel: two scientists who are working to protect Africa’s lions. Of particular interest to me is that Dr. Jansson is collaborating with a group of Maasai men. The Maasai help Dr. Jansson protect lions, and in return they earn a living and learn valuable skills. I do not know if this is the organization that Living with Lions refers to, but Lion Guardians adopts a similar approach.
The original video contains much more information. I highly recommend you visit the link below in order to learn more about the challenges facing the mighty lion.
Click here to watch Living with Lions: an engaging and educational new video