The world is on a precipice of losing more than 1 million species. And it's quite unfathomable to believe that the Panthera Leo or wild lion - could soon be one of them.
But that's the reality. A stark legacy of the canned lion hunting industry is that there is a differentiation between a wild lion and a captive lion.
And as some 22 500 wild lions face ever increasing threats and habitat encroachment, lions in South Africa have never faced such intense animal welfare issues as they do today.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE FOR THE TRUTH ABOUT LION CUB PETTING.
A new report entitled State of the Lion: Fragility of a Flagship Species, by Amy Dickman and Amy Hinks from the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford, details how wild lions have vanished from 95% of their historic range.
It states in countries like Malawi, the approximate wild lion population is five, 30 in Nigeria, 25 in Angola, 22 in Rwanda and 20 in Niger. Countries with larger populations include Tanzania (8176), Kenya (1825), Mozambique (1295), South Africa (2070), Zimbabwe (1709) and Zambia (1095).
As the world celebrates World Lion Day, today on 10 August, Four Paws is urging the public to take a stand by committing to bring an end to the industries which are causing intense suffering for the lions in South Africa.
The aim is to raise awareness on the status of lions and educate communities around the dire situation lion populations find themselves in. There’s only one way to stop the trade in lions: By removing all involvement with industries supporting it, says Four Paws.
This includes activities such as lion petting and walking with lion interactions, which both local and international tourists often take part in without realising the disastrous consequences.
“For far too long, these animals have been exploited and subject to severe animal cruelty. If you look at the most recent exposés regarding this industry, it’s clear that welfare considerations of these animals are completely disregarded. We hope that on this day, people will stand up against the abuse and join us in taking hands to shut these atrocities down,” says Four Paws country director Fiona Miles.
To this end, Four Paws is calling on the public to commit to the Lion Longevity Oath and end all support of activities and interaction with captivate lions and raise awareness of lion trade and canned lion hunting.
To raise your voice on behalf of captive lions or to see the Longevity Oath for Lions - click here.
Wild lion populations are decreasing, but the number of lions bred in captivity are soaring, “There are about 3 000 wild lions living in national parks and reserves in South Africa, but between 8 000 and 10 000 lions living in captivity – that in itself raises red flags” says Miles.
Often, these breeding facilities separate cubs from their mothers to hand rear them and habituate them to human interaction, before using animal interactions such as cub petting and walking with lions.
Once the lions are considered too old for these activities, they are likely to be used for canned hunting or killed for their bones, which are used in traditional medicine. The trade stimulates demand for lion bones and incentivises, illicit trade and poachers to target lions.
You have the power to end the lion trade.
“The only way to end these atrocities is to end your support of the various elements associated with the industry! By taking the oath, you will have an impact by reducing the demand for, and number of lions bred in captivity for these industries,” explains Miles.
"The oath also stands as proof to the South African government that urgent change needs to be implemented."