The Lion King Is Vanishing!

The Lion ( Panthera Leo),  King of the Jungle a truly magnificent creature. The  lion is a  symbol of power, leadership,dominance and so on. The symbol of the Lion has been used throughout history and to date as a symbol of authority, power, dominance, strength, courage, protection etc.

Male lion licking Cub

From a religious point of view Christians and Rastafarians use The  Lion of  the Tribe of Judah to symbolize  Jesus ,  among the Hindus The God Buddha sits on a Lion, among the Greeks Lions pulled the gods chariots. Many countries around the world bear the symbol of the lion on their flags, currency and coat of arms.

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Back in 2009 conservationists warned that in the next 10 years lions would be extinct in Kenya. According to the Kenya Wildlife Service there were 2,749 lions in Kenya in 2002 and their population dropped to 2,280 by 2004 and to about 2,000 today. Kenya is losing an average of 100 lions per year. In 2012 we have lost 6 lions already, this needs to stop.

Human Wildlife Conflict

This loss  of lions is as a result of  human wildlife conflict has becoming extremely rare outside protected areas. Their numbers are threatened by both direct and indirect persecution. These species are threatened directly when they are killed due to threats on human beings and livestock. Indirectly, they are killed when they get into snares set for other species. Poisoning, snaring for ungulates and spearing, all are major threats. Poisoning is perhaps the single greatest threat to carnivores and scavenging birds.

Human population Growth & Encroachment

Due to human population growth people have encroached into wildlife areas thus reducing
the area where wild herbivores range. This coupled with competition for pasture with
domestic stock and illegal hunting by the communities has led to reduction in wild prey numbers.

KWS rangers carring away dead Lion

Diseases

Diseases like Canine distemper being the most common disease to affect lions has wiped out many populations and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) infects several species of felines including lions. There has been one epidemic of CDV in lions – the Serengeti in the 1990’s that
killed 30% of the lions and an unknown number of  hyenas (probably just youngsters) but is the only recorded case. The Serengeti lion population recovered within a few years. FIV does indeed occur at high rates in nearly all lion populations, but there is absolutely no evidence that
it does them any harm. Wild carnivores all around the world live with FIV and it has no clinical manifestations. TB (Tuberculosis) has been found in Kruger’s lions, but there is no evidence that it has affected numbers at all. Rabies occurs in hyenas, but there is only small evidence that
it affects population numbers, except possibly on a local scale. Thus, disease seems like a very small conservation issue for lions and hyenas.

Habitat Loss

Habitat loss due to land use changes and human encroachment into areas that were previously occupied exclusively by wild animals is having a major impact on the range size for hyenas and lions. Recent work has found that anthropogenic activity has significant effects on the behaviour of spotted hyenas (Boydston et al 2003;Kolowski et al. 2007)

“I cannot imagine the Kenyan plains without this amazing beast we call the lion.”

For more information on Lion and Hyena statistics read-Kenya Wildlife Service (2009) National conservation and management strategy for lion and spotted hyena in Kenya (2009 – 2014). Nairobi, Kenya (pdf)