What will we do when we sit in the African bush and not hear the lion roar?

The continent's lion population has shrunk by 75% in the past two decades, according to wildlife experts. They are currently "vulnerable" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's list of threatened species. In west and central Africa lions are classified as "endangered".


Trophy hunting, human encroachment, poaching, lion poisoning, and human/lion conflict have become a grave concern. In Asia, lion bones have become a popular commodity for healing and traditional purposes. This is a huge concern as the market is increasing for lion bones... to make lion soup or lion wine. Its properties were believed... to provide medicinal remedies, which is medically unfounded.


The expanding agricultural sector has led to lions confining themselves to isolated areas, increasing their risk of extinction (read here my article from the Masai Mara). Every year more lions die as they are forced to make room for Africa's growth. In Botswana alone over 100 lions are killed each year in an attempt to protect livestock.

In South Africa around 1 500 lions are killed each year in the name of trophy hunting. By killing the dominant male in the pride... hunters set off a chain reaction of instinctive behaviours in which the subsequent dominant male kills all the offspring of the previous dominant male lion. It is estimated that six to eight feline deaths results from each dominant male that is shot. 165 US dollars paid for a Kilogram of Lion Bones to be exported to Laos and Vietnam. 1100 US for a Lion Skull to be exported. There has been reports of hunting outfitters digging up previously shot Lion Skeletons to sell the Bones. Read here the article

"Demand for lion bones offers South African breeders a lucrative return." 


According to Panthera, a wildcat conservation group, lions have vanished from over 80% of their historic range and are extinct in 26 countries. Only seven countries, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are believed to each contain more than 1 000 lions.

A lot more needs to be done to prevent the species' extinction.

Lions may be the well-reputed kings of the savannah, but South Africa's lucrative trophy-hunting industry means the regal cats are more likely to know the inside of a paddock ringed with an electric fence than the country's sweeping plains. To the dismay of animal rights activists and environmentalists, growing numbers of the top predator are being farmed for hunting, with more than half of South Africa's roughly 8 000 lions now in captivity. An estimated 3000 or so lions live wild in SA, compared to more than 5000 held in paddocks. Amateur trophy hunters - most of whom come from the US - each year kill about 500 captive-bred lions in SA. Hunters are ready to part with $22.000 per male lion, in addition to just about as much for other logistical and taxidermy costs. A lioness however comes in much cheaper at $4.000.

Kenya alone loses around 100 wild lions every year due to human contact. Experts believe there will be no more wild lions left in Kenya by 2030.

There is a scarcity of wild prey due to over-hunting by humans. When wild preys are over-hunted, lions are forced to feed on livestock. This drives further conflict with humans in which the lion ultimately loses. The lions are the most vital centre point in many ecosystems. If we lose them we can anticipate eventual collapse of whole environments, right down to the water systems, as prey shifts or migrations stop, and species overgraze and destroy the integrity of important vegetation, especially along rivers.

All species of tiger are now listed in CITES Appendix I, making illegal trade in them harder. That possibly is why lions are now being targeted. The African lion, Panthera leo, is listed in CITES Appendix II, a listing in Appendix I will not, unfortunately, eliminate all legal trade in lions. It will only serve to increase the regulations surrounding such trade. Trade will be more strictly controlled. In order to engage in trade of a species in Appendix I, there would have to be an export permit from the country of origin but also an import permit from the destination nation. This would be the first important step for me!


The lion is an important part of mankind's culture. The lion's existence is interwoven into the very fabric of African folklore and daily life and the iconic images of a lion stalking the savannah, the rasping echo of its roar and the bloodcurdling chill of the animal in full flight are sights and sounds that are, in every sense of the word, irreplaceable.


See the lions from the Serengeti Mara Ecosystem in my new book SERENGETI and in my gallery

We WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHERS want contribute to the preservation of our natural heritage and inspire the people of the beauty and uniqueness of the last remaining natural areas of the earth ... so show the world about this article. Share this and please leave a comment, thank you!

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