The lion population has plummeted by close to 50% over the last 20 years
Perhaps the most iconic animal of them all, the lion, is today another threatened species. During the last twenty years the lion population has decreased by close to 50 percent, and is locally extinct in fifteen African countries. It’s estimated that only about 23,000 lions remain in the wild. The decreasing population is mainly due to human expansion, as lions lose their habitat when cities, agriculture and roads are built and expanded. Restricted living space force lions to live closer to humans, and livestock, creating ‘human-wildlife’ conflicts. Lion attacking livestock more often result in farmers killing them, to protect their livelihood.
In addition to habitat loss to agriculture, lions are also hunted for pure pleasure by trophy hunters, who want to bring home a trophy – head and skin. The skeletons are sold on the extensive black market for use in Chinese traditional medicine, predominantly in Asia.
So called Lion Parks, mainly found in South Africa, are breeding lions in captivity. Lion cubs are taken from their mothers, sometimes just 24 hours after birth, to be displayed for ‘pay and play’, where tourists can come and pet baby lions. In the lions lifespan on these breeding farms they serve as tourist attractions from their first breath as cuddly pets to ‘selfie models’ in their adolescent, then trained into submission for tourist bush walks until they are fully grown and can be purchased online by trophy hunters for so called canned hunting – a hunt where these ‘tame’ lions, often sedated, are put in a larger enclosure where food are placed out to lure them close to the hunters, to then be shot and killed at close range.
Utöver förlusten av livsmiljöer för att ge plats åt människans utbredning, nöjesjagas också lejon av troféjägare, som bara är ute efter en trofé – huvud och hud – att ta med sig hem och hänga på vardagsrumsväggen. Skelettet säljs sedan på den omfattande svarta marknaden, för att användas i traditionell kinesisk medicin främst i Asien.
I så kallade Lejonparker, som finns främst i Sydafrika, avlas lejon i fångenskap. Lejonungar tas från sina mammor, ibland bara 24 timmar efter födseln, för att vara del av ”Pay and Play”, en aktivitet då turister betalar för att leka, gosa och klappa lejonungarna. Under hela sin livslängd på dessa uppfödningsgårdar fungerar lejonen som turistattraktioner, från sitt första andetag som gosiga lekkamrater, som tonåringar är de ”selfie-modeller”, och tränas sedan genom underkastelse till att gå med turister på bushvandringar tills de är förstora och en fara. Som fullvuxna kan lejonen köpas online av troféjägare för så kallad ”canned hunting” – en jakt där dessa ”tama” lejon, som ofta fått lugnandemedel, släpps ut i ett större inhägnat område. På området har mat placerats ut för att locka lejonen nära jägarna, sedan skjuts och dödas de på nära håll. Samtidigt som detta pågår marknadsför sig uppfödarna som djurbevarandeprojekt och påstår att lejonen ska släppas ut i naturen. Sanningen är att dessa domesticerade lejon aldrig skulle klara sig på egenhand i det vilda.
The work by The Perfect World Foundation, together with its sister organization Volunteer Travels, has included being a major contributor to revealing and countering the terrible lion breeding industry, mainly found in South Africa. The organizations have visited some of the most dubious projects to investigate what was really going on. Several centres are breeding lions in captivity and exploit them to the maximum by letting tourists pet and cuddle lion cubs and bush walk next to young submissive lions, before finally letting trophy hunters pay big money to hunt and shoot the tame lions in large enclosures, and a few weeks later receiving a package back home with the head and skin, to hang on their living room wall. While all this is going on, the breeders trick people into thinking that they are breeding the lions in order to preserve them and release them into the wild. Truth is, these ‘domesticated’ lions would not make it in the wild.The Perfect World Foundation and Volunteer Travels have used their position as travelling agency to prevent people from travelling to lion parks where you can interact with lions cubs as well as adult lions, by clearly identifying these projects on Volunteer Travels’ website with red flag banners marked ‘Banned’. As always, the lion centres are all about the money, so if we can succeed in getting people to refrain from participating in these particular lion projects or visiting the lion parks, we can ultimately get these exploiting breeding centres to close down for good. In 2015, The Perfect World Foundation attended the South African film premiere of Blood Lions – a documentary about the lion breeding industry, where we gave a speech about our actions taken in the pursuit of putting an end to the lion breeding industry, in hope of inspiring others to do the same.
Educate yourself about the threats our wild lions are facing, then share it with friends and family – in conversations, on social media – create awareness. Knowledge is power. When traveling and on holiday never visit facilities that offer interaction with lions – cubs or adults. Don’t buy souvenirs or other items made out of lion parts.
With us you can also Volunteer Travel and get the opportunity to work at a lion sanctuary, and experience wildlife conservation projects around the world. Donations and sponsoring partnerships are crucial for us to continue our work to save the world’s remaining lions, and give them a chance to thrive again.
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You can buy the English issue No.2 HERE or the Swedish issue No.1 HERE