The Pride of Lions
There is something memorable about seeing a lion, or lions in their own environment away from the confines of a zoo or wildlife safari. One of the first things you notice is that one lion usually comes with “friends.”
According to National Geographic, Lions are the only cats that live in groups, which are called prides. Prides are family units that may include up to three males, a dozen or so females, and their young. The pride's lionesses are related, and female cubs typically stay with the group as they age.
Another thing you notice is there doesn't seem to be very many of them in the wild.
Last year the US Fish and Wildlife Services announced that African lions may be facing extinction by the year 2050. The agency proposed listing the lions as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. According to Scientific American:
"The decision to list the big cats as threatened—one level below endangered—would allow the U.S. government to provide some level of training and assistance for on-the-ground conservation efforts and restrict the sale of lion parts or hunting trophies into the country or across state lines."
The greatest threats facing lions are habitat loss, loss of prey (largely due to the bushmeat trade), and human-lion conflict, including sport hunting and retaliation kills, in which lions are killed after attacking area livestock. There are only about 34,000 lions left in Africa, which is about half the number that existed 30 years ago. About 70 percent of these animals live in just 10 regions of the continent, mostly in southern and eastern Africa. In West Africa, fewer than 250 adult lions remain.
Read that again - in less than 30 years, 2050, there will be no more free roaming lions!
Did you know that a lion roar can be heard for 5 miles, or that lions though called “king of the jungle” don’t live in the jungle? They live on the grasslands and plains. They are the second biggest cat, behind the tiger and they once roamed the entire globe, now only found in southern and eastern Africa – a few remain in Asia.
Like the tiger, the lion is not an easy animal to confine to small areas of land, as they roam and hunt often ranging 100 miles in the territory of the pride. Second, an encounter with a lion is often life-threatening for man or animal such as livestock. Sadly, the story of humanity’s encroachment upon the earth, rather than a deep care for it, will soon make these majestic creatures only stories of “yesteryear” for generations to come. And the prideful lion, symbol of power, strength, and courage will be lost to us forever.