KAMPALA — Lions may soon be extinct if urgent measures are not taken, World Animal Protection has warned ahead of World Lion Day.
The world lion day is observed across the globe on August 10 every year and aims to awareness and educates people about lions and issues concerning the conservation of the species.
Edith Kabesiime, Campaigns Manger at World Animal Protection told reporters that African lions are facing human and nature induced threats— calling for a need to prioritize their protection.
“We have witnessed the population of lions in Africa declined in the last decades as human beings occupy their habitat, Ms. Kabesiime said.
Statistics from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicate that Africa’s lion population declined from 200,000 in the last century to the current 20,000. Lions exist in 26 African countries. The continent has lost about 90 percent of the carnivore from its original habitat over climate change disruptions and removal from their habitats for entertainment and poaching to satisfy the traditional medicine industry.
Other issues include, shrinking of prey base linked to massive hunting has increased their risk of death by starvation and limited basic animal welfare conditions, such as enough water, food, space, shelter and medical care among others.
Ms. Kabesiime notes that this has also been propelled by the urge to make profits through wildlife trade.
Apparently, African lion has been categorized by IUCN as a vulnerable species amid international trade in its claws, bones and jaws to meet a rising demand for traditional medicine and jewellery.
“Wildlife trade is not sustainable. If anything, it is recipe for ultimate extinction and possible outbreak of a future pandemic like what we are experiencing currently,” she added, calling for immediate action to protect and save lions from future extinction.
Key among the solution, the officials have called for a ban on international trade in lion’s products coupled with enforcement of laws to deter poaching will help reverse their declining numbers in Africa.
“Policy makers need to consider a total ban on wildlife trade. There is need for a coordinated global action to advocate for it as a way of saving Africa’s wild Populations.
At individual level, Tennyson Williams, World Animal Protection Country Director says, one should distance themselves from wildlife trade ultimately making it socially unacceptable.
“If we learn anything from the current situation, it is that we need to leave wild animals where they belong – in the wild. We all have a responsibility to make a shift in our behaviour and attitudes towards animals that could save the lives of lions, other wildlife species, millions of people and our economies,” he adds.
This year’s World Lion Day is marked with keen interest in three objectives; The first is to raise awareness of the plight of the lion and the issues that the species faces. The second is to find ways to protect the big cat’s natural environment. And the third is to educate people on how to prevent human-wildlife conflicts. Humans and large species like cats can live in harmony together, but only if they understand how to do so.