#WorldLionDay: Awareness needed to double endangered lion numbers by 2050

Bert Du Plessis

Cape Town – August 10 is World Lion Day, and as the years pass, the celebration of this day becomes bittersweet as the magnificent cat species faces greater threat.

From South Africa’s proposed legalised export of 800 lion skeletons, to Cecil the Lion’s cub being killed by a trophy hunter in Zimbabwe, conservationists remain concerned about the devastating impact of humans on lions.

However, many conservation groups and organisations, such as Blood Lions, continue to work hard to raise awareness on trophy hunting, petting zoos and other factors that pose risks to lions - and these groups deserve recognition for their efforts in trying to save the species.

SEE: Blood Lions named Best Documentary at oldest global environmental film festival

World Lion Day says that the annual campaign aims “to raise much needed conservation awareness for the vulnerable African lion and endangered Asiatic lion”.

“The lion is an enduring symbol across the nations and has fascinated man throughout the millennia. To lose such a species would be to lose a significant part of our global heritage.”

“Join us in saving this magnificent species and unite those across the world in recognising their importance to us,” it adds. 

Only 20 000 lions remain today

Lions in South Africa are listed under Appendix II which means their products can be traded internationally but only “if the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.”

The numbers of African free-range lions have declined alarmingly over the last few decades with only 20 000 remaining today, down from 30 000 just two decades ago.

SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: Will SA's estimated 7 000 canned lions all end up this way?

Panthera, a conservation group dedicated to wild cats and their landscapes, warns that a "staggering number" of lions are being killed in captivity in South Africa for "lion bone wine", and calls on government commitment to protect lions.

However, it is not only lion conservation groups who are dedicated to raising awareness on World Lion Day, as other animal protection groups - including rhinosinafrica - have joined forces to remind the public of the plight of lions.

Despite the decline in lion numbers, World Lion Day on Facebook is confident that with awareness and action now, the number of lions can be doubled by 2050.

Blood Lions film screening

In celebration of this day in which we pay tribute to the “King of the jungle”, YouthForLions and Blood Lions launched a #WatchToWin campaign to raise awareness around the plight of one of the world’s most iconic species.

“This visionary community have partnered with Wildlands to return the reserve back to its historical status as a Big Five reserve,” says Blood Lions.

“Somkhanda forms part of a KZN Wildlife and WWF initiative, the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, which released a number of black rhino onto the reserve in order to promote their breeding and expand their range. In addition, the reserve hosts important populations of white rhino and critically endangered African wild dog,” says Blood Lions. Click here for more details

In addition to the campaign, Blood Lions - the full-length film - will be aired on television for the first time on World Lion Day, 10 August. Previously the edited 40-minute version of the film was aired on television. 

"We have managed to curb the canned hunting industry quite heavily, yet the cub petting industry is proving to be very hard. We need more people to watch the film," says Blood Lions.

See the television screening details below:

What to read next on Traveller24:

Blood Lions named Best Documentary at oldest global environmental film festival

Big cats worldwide threatened by SA lion bone trade

PICS: Incredible first! Wild lion nursing leopard cub

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