Africa’s lion population has shrunk by 75% in the past two decades, wildlife experts say. Currently listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s list of threatened species, the classification escalates to ‘endangered’ in central and western parts of the continent.
Popular gaming activities like trophy hunting and poaching have increased the threat to lion numbers, but have also alerted conservation groups and activists about the matter.
In Asia, a whole new threat is endangering the king of the jungle; the growth in popularity of lion bones, heralded for their supposed medicinal and healing value, has seen lions numbers diminish. Lion soup, medicine, and even lion wine are being created and consumed for their healing abilities.
According to wildcat conservation group Panthera, lions have disappeared from more than 80% percent of their historic range. In 25 countries, they are now extinct, with only seven countries left on the African continent where you can see these beautiful cats roam, including Botswana, Ethiopia, and South Africa.
In Kenya, lion numbers are dwindling at a rate of 100 wild lions a year, due to human contact alone. Experts are estimating there will be none left by 2030.
But, the environmental havoc we may experience after they go extinct could be great, according to the National Geographic; water systems and ecosystems will be jeapordised. The Panthera also state that, when wild prey are over-hunted and become scarce, lions are forced to feed on livestock.
This will continue to fuel the battle between lions and humans, with the lions inevitably losing.
With hoards of tourists flocking to Africa each year for a glimpse of these big cats, many countries where tourism are the primary source of economy will all be jeopordised.