World Lion Day
Blonde Maned Lion
World Lion Day
Lions are in trouble. The population of Lions in the wild has plummeted in the last fifty years and it continues to fall. Unless more is done to protect them in their wild environment it is likely that there will be no wild Lions in another fifty years.
World Lion Day has been designated on the 10th August. This is the day for Lions. The day in which zoos of the world can draw the attention of their visitors to the very real threat that Lions are facing in the wild. As the 'King of the Beasts' everyone is familiar with the the Lion. A symbol of courage which we are going to lose unless more is done to help them.
Using World Lion day properly means addressing the problems and moving forward to rectify them.
Everyone is familiar with the Lion
The Lion is probably one of the most recognisable of all animals. Sadly and perhaps because it is not as 'pretty' as the Tiger it does not get the same attention.
As an apex predator it is a gardener of the wild. Inhabiting huge territories it weeds out the sick and the weak. An environment protected for the Lion ensures that it is healthy for all the other species with which it shares its space. Our world, as we know it needs Lions.
Lions are only found in Africa and India today having long disappeared from their former range and yet they are a familiar creature throughout most of the world. They figure highly in symbolism and culture in countries where they have never occurred like the United Kingdom and China.
Lions at the Jade Buddha Temple
At one time the Lion was found over most of the African continent. Today the population has been fragmented. Land has been stolen and utilised for other purposes and so Lions now exist in small isolated pockets. Each of these faces its own threats and so localised extinction is a very real threat. Something as simple as a disease outbreak could wipe out one of these populations almost overnight.
The main threat to the wild Lion is habitat loss and disease but it too is poached. Lion poaching does not get as much attention from the World's press as does Elephants or Rhinos.
The Captive Threat to Lions
Some good zoos keep and exhibit lions. They are a popular zoo species and an animal that many zoo visitors expect to see. In fact there are few sights more spectacular the a large dark maned lion.
Sadly there are a number of Dysfunctional Zoos and animal collections which exhibit for all the wrong reasons. This exploitative commercial exhibition of Lions starts in their own country.
Here visitors to Africa get the opportunity to bottle feed Lion cubs. A thrilling experience no doubt and it may actually make people care more about Lions. The question does have to be asked however..."Why is the mother not rearing them?"
The reasons given are always along the lines of, 'she didn't have enough milk', 'she abandoned them', 'she didn't know what to do' and so on. The truth is that they were deliberately taken from the mother so that tourists could feed them.
So what happens next? They may end up on the next level of commercial exploitation. Having been hand reared they become 'tame' and are so eligible for a 'Walking with Lions' programme. Here tourists are given a half grown Lion to walk on a lead through the bush.
Again questions may spring to mind. "What happens next?" ...and the reasons given are that they will be returned to the wild. Again this is a lie. Hacking a hand reared Lion back to the wild is a long and difficult undertaking and is not always successful. In fact the chance of success is very very small.
Sadly these animals are going to enter the Canned Hunt market where a very different kind of tourist is going to pay to shoot that little cub that someone bottle fed with a crossbow, spear, or large calibre rifle.
The commercial exploitation does not end there. The 'tourist' may pay for the skin to be tanned and taken back home.
Then the bones are exported to China for use in medicinal or aphrodisiac preparations.
Lions are in trouble.
Today more and more White Lions are being bred. There is much myth surrounding these animals. A lot of zoos (even some good ones) having been taken in by the oft repeated lies. White Lion breeding is not conservation. In fact keeping and breeding these inbred creatures is doing positive harm to the Lion population as a whole.
Within Africa most White Lions will end up being shot in Canned Hunts. The hunters willing to pay just that bit more for something which is a little bit different. Within the zoos which breed them there will always be a Dysfunctional Zoo which is willing to take them on. Several have ended up in some Asian collections recently, they paying big money because they have fallen for the lie. A number of White Lions from a UK collection recently ended up in a Japanese Circus.
Lions in India are confined to one small population in the Gir forest. There is no room for the animals to spread out into other areas. It is mainly Indian Lions which are kept in European Zoos. There is a managed breeding Programmes for these animals.
There was a recent translocation of some Indian Lions to another forest in India but this proved unsuccessful.
What Can You Do For Lions?
You can become aware. You can support your local (Good) zoo and a charity which helps Lions. Let the world know how you feel. Link to this Hub article on Facebook and Twitter. The more people who are aware of the plight of the Lions the more likely that governments will do something to protect them.