Saving the African Lion

The Ministry of Tourism launched the Tusk Lion Trail to commemorate World Lion Day.

Courtesy/ Wild Animal Protection

World Animal Protection has raised alarm on the plummeting numbers of wild African lions, part of it is as a result of the global wildlife trade. Africa’s lion population has almost halved in the past 25 years. Habitat loss and fragmentation, wildlife trade, bushmeat poaching and human-lion conflict continue to threaten lions across Africa, – which are now classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable.

In light of the plight of African lions, Kenya through the Ministry of Tourism is doing its part. Led by Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, the ministry and Tusk, on Tuesday launched the Tusk Lion Trail to commemorate World Lion Day. The newly launched programme is aimed at raising public awareness of the plight of the African Lion. The programme will also raise funds to support community conservation that has been heavily affected by the ongoing pandemic.

For many years, African countries have been the go-to tourist destinations to experience safaris with the key tourist attraction being spotting the African lion in the wild. These scenarios may not be the case in the near future if nothing is done to end the captive lion breeding industry.

Edith Kabesiime, wildlife campaigns manager at World Animal Protection said; “It is encouraging to see some African countries like South Africa making commitments to shift away from the practice of breeding and keeping lions in captivity, using captive lions or their derivatives commercially. World Animal Protection commends South Africa for this important step forward and hopes that this declaration will be fully implemented and other African states who are considering legalising commercial lion breeding can halt the process.”

Lions suffer at every stage of their life in breeding farms and intensive captive conditions increase the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. Ending the trade in wild animals is not only good for the animals, but also for the people. As the world struggles to respond to the current global health pandemic, it is more important now than ever to be aware of public health risks from contact with wild animals and to reduce risks wherever possible.

  

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