Local club takes on ‘lion’s share’ for conservation

A lone Kalahari male, above, walks in the scrub grasses.

The Lions Club District 410A awareness project was started in January 2018 by Bee Lingg from the Lions Club of Gordon’s Bay. Since then, almost 5 000 people have joined the project’s Facebook group.

The lion is synonymous with wild Africa, yet few realise the species has undergone catastrophic declines.

Although being a licensed field guide and a keen wildlife photographer, Bee Lingg only realised in 2017, how dire the situation for the lion species really looks.

Having extensively travelled all major African parks and game reserves where wild lions still live in a (relative) abundance, this was an absolute eye-opener for her.

Lions once roamed from Europe to the southern tip of Africa and from West Africa to India.Their populations have declined by 93% in just one century.

In 1918, there were still
350 000 lions roaming through Africa. In 1958, the numbers of wild lions were already down to 120 000. In 2018, the historical low of 20 000 lions was reached (some even tend to estimate, that there are less than 18 000) and the species is extinct in 27 African countries.

Though lions still exist in 26 African countries, only seven countries are known worldwide containing more than 1 000 lions.

There are many reasons for the decline. Habitat loss, landscape fragmentation; human-lion conflicts, as well as poisoning in retaliation by local tribesmen, form the biggest threat equally all over Africa.

The illegal bush-meat trade of prey species results in lions being caught and killed in snares and lack of lion prey in the same time. Trophy and canned hunting, a trophy hunt in which a captive bred animal is killed in a confined area, has become less attractive for hunters due to international resistance.

At the same time, the trade with lion bones and parts is on a long-term high. Lion bones are used for traditional “medicines”, wine and other products in Asia to substitute tiger bones, believing that it provides health benefits.

Lions4Lions aims to create world-wide awareness for the lion species fate. Though the project is a Lions Club project, everybody is invited to help to spread the word.

The project’s website www.lions4lions.org provides extensive information, articles and research material. The Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/Lions4Lions keeps members updated with news and facts.

Bee Lingg is the Lions Club of Gordons Bay’s vice president. Environment is one of five focus areas that Lions Club members care about.

To find out more visit www.gordonsbaylions.co.za