African campaigner calls for protection of lions as threats intensify
This years World Lion Day should serve as a wake-up call for governments, industry and local communities to revitalize action on the threats facing the majestic species in Africa, a campaigner said.
The African lion is facing multiple threats, hence the need to strengthen its protection, a campaigner said on Tuesday during the World Lion Day.
Edith Kabesiime, Wildlife Campaigns Manager at World Animal Protection's Africa Office said that human and climate induced threats to the iconic carnivore have escalated in the recent past.
"The lion is valued by many African cultures but its survival is at stake due to poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation, declining population of prey and retaliatory attacks by herders," said Kabesiime.
Statistics from World Animal Protection indicate that Africa's lion population is currently estimated at 20,000, down from about 2 million a century ago, while their dwindling number could upset ecosystem balance.
Kabesiime said this year's World Lion Day should serve as a wake-up call for governments, industry and local communities to revitalize action on the threat facing the majestic species in Africa.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the African lion as vulnerable amid illegal hunting, encroachment on its habitat and climatic shocks.
According to Kabesiime, lions in West Africa are already critically endangered while poaching has increased across the east and southern African region.
"High incidences of lion poisoning have also been reported in East Africa as nomadic communities retaliate after attacks on their livestock," said Kabesiime.
She noted that demand for lion products like bones and teeth in the fast growing herbal medicine industry has also fuelled their poaching in the African wild.
Kabesiime said that other threats to the African lion include captive breeding and trophy hunting, adding that enactment of new policies, regulations and heightened campaigns are key to saving the carnivore, and sustaining the resilience of the continent's natural habitats.