Lions are the second-largest cats in the world, after tigers, known as the “king of beasts” or “king of the jungle”. These regal felines once roamed Africa, Asia and Europe, but now only live in parts of Africa and India. Experts have long recognized two subspecies of lion, Panthera leo leo (the African lion) and Panthera leo persica (the Asiatic lion). However, recent studies suggest that lions from West and Central Africa are more closely related to Asian lions than they are to lions from the eastern and southern parts of Africa. Lions are social cats and live in groups called prides. Asiatic and African lion prides are very different, though. African lion prides typically consist of up to three adult males and around a dozen females and their young, according to National Geographic. Some prides can get extremely large, however, with up to 40 members. Females tend to remain in the pride in which they are born, so they are usually related to each other. Lions tend to hunt at night and often lurk around water holes, streams and rivers, as those areas are hotspots for prey. Lions will also scavenge, and won’t hesitate to steal other predators’ kills or eat the leftovers. Lions are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. Three-quarters of African lion populations are in decline; their current population is estimated at 20,000 in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF). The population has been almost cut in half in the past two decades because of retaliatory killings by farmers, as well as from trophy hunting and habitat loss. Lions are fantastic animals, which in many cases reflect the behavior of all animals; with their bearing they are able to dominate all animals, not surprisingly they are nicknamed the KING.
A few days ago, Lion Day was celebrated all over the world, but it is a pity that there is little to celebrate considering their numbers. The decline of the king of the savannah seems unstoppable. This is why the last representatives of that wild Africa recounted in documentaries are increasingly difficult to observe freely. So someone has decided to breed them, but not with the intention of preserving them, unfortunately, but only for profit, a type of breeding that makes a lot of money and attracts trophy hunters from halfway around the world.
The death of Cecil, the iconic Zimbabwean lion killed by an American dentist, has outraged everyone. The sad news was an opportunity to reflect, investigate and take stock of the phenomenon of hunting safaris, poaching, to explain why it is right to be indignant and what Cecil’s death means for lion populations and endangered species. If necessary, with images of the lion projected onto New York’s Empire State Building.