Lions are the King of the Jungle for a reason. These majestic wild cats can weigh up to a whopping 300 kilograms, can be as big as 11 feet, can live up to 30 years, and their favorite food? It’s prey popsicle. Who that prey is, is up to them.
But lions are fussy, so long as it’s got a heartbeat and enough meat on their bones, then it’s gourmet chow time. Lions are so strong, fast, and intelligent, that you’d think there would be loads of them. Who could kill a lion?
Well, the answer to that is both sad and obvious.
Yes, we the human race are single-handedly (or is it two-handedly because it takes two hands to hold a gun?) responsible for culling many different species and hunting them into near extinction.
The lion is no exception. Unfortunately, thanks to hunting, climate change, and so many other problems that the human race is responsible for, the number of lions in the world is not what it used to be.
How Many Lions Did There Used To Be?
Lions are native to the continent of Africa, particularly eastern and southern Africa. And there’s more than one type of lion.
Within the lion species, there are lots of different subspecies, like the Barbary lion or Cave lion.
No matter what subspecies, they are all included under the term lion. So when we talk about lions, they’re included too.
Lions used to be abundant in Africa. There’s evidence that as many as 200,000 wild lions were living all around Africa as little as 100 years ago.
Population tracking was only really introduced around 100 years ago too. This means that we’ll never truly know how many lions there were before 100 years. But some guestimates are as high as 500,000.
Since then, hunting has become a very popular sport. It was always very popular but over the last century, people have become more mobile. When Africa was colonized and pillaged, colonizers who were big on hunting found out about Africa’s diverse and beautiful animal population.
They then decided, hey let’s kill them for sport because we like to ruin things for everyone. More and more colonizers went hunting for lions and more and more lions died. Africa became a hotspot for hunting, not just lions, but tigers, rhinos, snakes, and many other animals. So many different animal populations were massacred.
Nowadays they are still hunted but the reason is more commercial. Lion skins, teether, paws, meat, and other parts of them are often sold on the black market for very high prices. Think of that rich, douchey, supervillain, in their mansion that’s got a lion rug. This is all his fault.
How Many Lions Are Left In The World?
The lion population has taken a massive hit in the last 100 years. If you thought 200,000 was a small number, wait until you hear how many are left. Thanks to hunting, climate change, and habitat destruction, the population of lions left in Africa has reduced so dramatically that it will make your jaw drop.
In the last 21 years alone the population has nose-dived by 43%. In 1996 the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, had to step in and declare lions a vulnerable species. When a species has become vulnerable it means that at least 50% of its population has declined overall and that it faces a serious risk of extinction in its wild, natural habitat.
There are four categories of endangered species. They are Vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, and extinct in the wild. Once a species hits vulnerable it’s a scramble to save them. Very few vulnerable species have been saved from extinction.
There are now less than 20,000 lions left in the wild. This includes all different subspecies. And unfortunately, the lion has become extinct in as many as 15 different countries in Africa, making it regionally extinct.
What Can Be Done To Help The Lions?
When a species becomes vulnerable it’s a race to save them from extinction. One of the biggest reasons behind the lions dwindling population is human contact. It seems whenever humans come into contact with a species it’s only a matter of time before it finds itself in danger.
The African Wildlife Foundation is a great source of information about conserving wildlife in Africa and has some great tips on how to do it. One of their biggest tips is to mitigate the contact between humans and lions.
That’s why sanctuaries and wildlife conservation planes like Ruaha National Park have been introduced. This is where 10% of the remaining lion population resides and has been safe for the last few years.
If you’re planning on visiting any wildlife sanctuaries then the best advice would be to take pictures and leave nothing behind. Especially don’t take anything and try not to interact with the lions as they are a predatory species and could pounce at any moment.
Which will result in that lion being put down and boom, you just accidentally killed a lion.
Final Thoughts About Lions
Lions were once majestic, prideful, creatures. Now we’ve turned them into a vulnerable species that fighting to stay in existence. While there are things we can do to save them we should also think about the fact that this shouldn’t have happened in the first place. And take that lesson forward.
The lion population has plummeted in the last 100 years and its current projection is not looking good. If we’re not careful the lion could go the same way as the white rhino. And then what species will we destroy next?
Fortunately, more people are waking up to the danger and doing the best they can to help the lions. The question is, does that include you?