Today, August 10, is World Lion Day. It was created to generate support for one of Earth’s most incredible animals: the lion (Panthera leo).
As with many species of large predator, human actions are driving lions towards extinction. They are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, which states that lion populations have likely declined by 43% in the past 21 years alone (Bauer, Packer, Funston, Henschel, & Nowell, 2016).
When using a longer time scale, the lion’s downward trend is even more alarming. Panthera, an NGO (non-governmental organization) that specializes in scientific research and conservation of the world’s wild cat species, claims that lions numbers have dropped for 200,000 to just 20,000 in the past 100 years. The ‘king of beasts’ has also lost 90% of its historic range.
However, there are a host of organizations and dedicated individuals who are working to reverse the lion’s decline. Panthera, who I mentioned above, is a great organization to support.
The National Geographic Society is also helping to conserve lions through their Big Cats Initiative – and through their fantastic media productions. My favorite National Geographic-affiliated project is WildEarth‘s Wild SafariLIVE, which I have waxed lyrically about before.
For those who are not aware, SafariLIVE is the cutting edge in wildlife programming. It is a live, interactive safari that streams out of the Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. During each drive, viewers are able to communicate with the show’s expert guides via social media. They can send in questions and comments, and there is a chance that their queries will be answered on air.
For World Lion Day, SafariLIVE has produced an excellent compilation of footage of lions hunting. Since I am incredibly busy at the moment, I have not had time to prepare anything myself. Fortunately, SafariLIVE’ video more than makes up for that. Here it is:
Please, take a few minutes to support lion conservation on this World Lion Day. While there are many excellent projects you could donate to, this time I chose to contribute to National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative. If you would like to do the same, here is their donation page.