African lions, threats, conflict and mitigation

By Jackie Abell

Jackie Abell

Jackie Abell (Right) is a researcher, conservationist and psychologist and was quick to remind of us of the status of wild lions currently located around the Serengeti in Tanzania, Africa.

Recent estimations of the total population of lions reveals a decline of 43% which leaves a total estimate of 15,000-35,000 wild lions. I understand how broad this figure may seem and Jackie reminded us it was impossible to gather total numbers of wild populations.

To quote Jackie regarding decreasing lion populations, ‘Don’t focus on the numbers focus on the speed of their decline’. This area possesses the largest population of wild lions in Africa. It was shocking to hear the list of threats that are imposed on these lions, to list a few, human conflict, prey and habitat loss, unregulated hunting pressures and climate change are having direct consequences on wild populations.

She also added that a very likely source of some of these factors are due to protected areas lacking resources for effective management teams and the lack of political will and stability to protect and increase lion populations also contributes to the problem.

Parameters undertaken to address these issues include the protection and restoration of the existing lion populations and with the help of the IUCN SSC (Cat Specialist group), they helped to define the goal set for this conservation.

Jackie outlined her vision to improve conservation in this area, these included;

  • A multidisciplinary approach
  • Promotion of conservation and management plans
  • To get the people of Africa to want to help the problem.

Jackie explained that last month an agreement to protect the third largest park in Africa, a 1910 km² area of Africa named Chizarira park (https://www.expertafrica.com/zimbabwe/chizarira-national-park), had been signed by the government of Zimbabwe. This area had been losing revenue from the lack of tourism visiting the area, one of the main reasons for its declining popularity was the lack of local wildlife due to poachers operating in the area.

Jackie went on to discuss human-wildlife interactions and trying to improve these relationships. She explained how African farmers construct ‘bomas’ which they use to house cattle during the night. Unfortunately, due to poor construction and animal husbandry techniques these ‘bomas’ are regularly attacked at night by local wildlife.

Richard Turere
Young Richard, 11 years old

A young 13-year-old boy named Richard Turere from Masaai, Kenya, which happens to be at the edge of the Nairobi National Park developed a solution to this problem. From the age of 9 Turere had been charged with the herding of his family’s cattle and tasked with guarding their livestock, this often left young Turere to count any losses they had obtained. At the age of 11 he had had enough of the constant pressure and threat from attacking lions so Turere devised a plan to prevent these attacks. He developed a device that emitted a flash of light at intermittently that was designed to deter lions, he discovered that lions would be deterred by person carrying a flashlight and so came the idea for this device.

My Opinions

I think this seminar was quite surprising again as with the seminar mentioned previously about African farms. As this seminar was on a similar topic it is truly horrific to consider the amount of threats and disadvantages that African farmers face on a day to day basis. I think learning more about this subject has made me feel a huge amount of sympathy and sadness for the people dealing with these circumstances.

Thanks for reading,

Cian.

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