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Conservationists: Africa's lions on decline due to poisoning by humans

joseph earnest

The African lion also known as Pantera leoFile photo.


by Joseph Earnest October 25, 2013


Newscast Media CAPETOWN—Populations of lions are on the decline in Africa, according to LiveScience, due to the interaction of the cats with human populations. Nomadic herding cultures may convert wild habitat to grazing land, thereby reducing the population of natural prey for the majestic cats. So instead of going after a zebra, lions will hunt people's livestock.


According to Yahoo news, the country being affected by this decline is Uganda.

Researchers from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland analyzed the density and population distribution of the African lion in three of Uganda's national parks.

In two of the parks surveyed — Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park — lion populations have decreased by 30 and 60 percent, respectively, over the past 10 years. Only in Kidepo Valley National Park, in the northeastern part of Uganda, was the number of lions found to be increasing, climbing from 58 to 132 in the last decade.

One of the reasons for the lions' decline in this part of Africa is poisoning by local ranchers, whose livestock are frequently killed by lions, and other human-related conflicts. (pop-up)

"Conservation areas, such as Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls, which formerly contained the highest biomass of mammals on Earth, depend on the delicate balance between predators and prey," James Deutsch, executive director of WCS' Africa Program, said in a statement. "Their loss would permanently alter two of Africa's great ecosystems."

Unfortunately due to failure or reluctance of African nations to protect these wild cats, animal rights groups had no choice but to file a petition two years ago, in 2011, seeking to list lions as "endangered species" which would also eliminate the treacherous sport of "trophy hunting" and commercial trade.

*Click here to read or download endangered species research report. (pop-up)

"There is a real possibility that more African countries will lose their wild lions altogether if the current situation is not reversed," Adam Roberts of the wildlife group Born Free USA said in a statement. "Currently, lions are not adequately protected by existing regulatory measures at national, regional or international levels."

In the specific case of Uganda where the lions are experiencing a decline due to human encroachment, could be explained by the increasing migration of pastoralists or herdsmen from the south and neighboring countries, whose cattle may wander off into lion habitat while grazing. The cattle would then be easy prey for the lions, but out of retaliation, the herdsmen could then poison kill these lions.

Both Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Parks are located in Western Uganda where migration is heaviest, while Kidepo National Park is located in the Northeastern region along the Sudanese border.

Studies have shown that fencing the lions in the national parks may not be natural, but would help the populations grow due to less interaction with livestock or humans.

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