Nothing symbolizes the wild of Africa more than the lion. Celebrated as the king of animals, lions nowadays often lead a less majestic existence than we would expect.

Once living not only in Africa, but also in Europe and Asia, lions have disappeared from Europe, in Asia we only count about 400 specimens in the Gir National Park in India and in Africa lions have disappeared from most countries and only survive in parks and protected areas - which corresponds to about 5% of their historical habitat.

Only Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe have more than 1,000 lions. However, where larger contiguous wildlife areas and genetic diversity still exist, a turnaround can be brought about.

Good News
Kafue National Park - under the management of African Parks since 2022 - and supported by various NGOs such as Panthera, Musekese Conservation, Lion Recovery Fund, Game Rangers International and Zambian Carnivore Program, is a shining example. Joining forces has drastically increased the resources for the protection of the park and the improved cooperation amongst the different players have already stabalized the overall animal population and resulted in an increase of the lion population.
An expanding global population is encroaching on the natural habitat of the lion, forcing it out of its ancestral homeland and leading to an increasing number of conflicts between lion, human and livestock. Farmers, whose cattle are killed by lions, poison or shoot them. About 200,000 lions lived in Africa at the beginning of the 20th century, today there are just 20,000 left.

Poachers kill lions because it is believed that their bones have special medicinal properties. It is this same superstition that has led to tigers and rhinos becoming almost extinct.

A further threat comes in the form of wealthy trophy hunters who dish out fortunes to kill these magnificent creatures. There are simply too few lions to make even a single exception. South Africa in particular has become the seat of the truly unpleasant business of ‘canned hunting’, where lions are reared and nurtured for the sole purpose of being shot by hunters.
Bred for the bullet
April 2024: The South African government has officially confirmed that captive lion farms will be shut down. A new ministerial task team report released has cemented the government’s intention, first made public in 2021, to put an end to African lions being legally sold and traded live, both internationally and domestically. Big cats are being bred for the use of their bones in traditional Chinese medicine.

It also heralds the end of “canned” trophy hunting, where lions are confined to an enclosed space and hunted down, with no chance of escape. However, the government has not yet provided any definitive deadlines for closing down the industry. It is estimated that there are around 300 facilities in South Africa with as many as 10'000 lions living in captivity. Unfortunately the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries had to admit that it doesn’t know how many facilities there are. Nor does it know how many predators are in captivity.

For more information visit Blood Lions
Lion Facts
  • The gestation period is about 100 days
  • Can eat 40kg of meat in a single meal
  • Big males weigh 200kg or more
  • Usually live 10-14 years
  • A group of lions is called a pride
  • Lion cubs are born with spots
  • The only cat to roar together
  • Sleep a lot and work little