By Rina Herzl
When people think of lions, the assumption is that they must undoubtedly be flourishing in the wild. But their powerful, symbolic image in human culture is no indicator of their status in the wild. Lions are facing complex threats, and in the last 25 years, Africa has lost over half of its lions.
Lions face extermination as a result of poaching and human-wildlife conflicts. They are increasingly left with little choice but to hunt peoples’ livestock, and when they do, individual lions and, sometimes, whole prides are killed in retaliation.
Across Africa, habitats are shrinking and becoming more disconnected as human populations grow. This impedes the ability of lions to roam and hunt for wild prey. As communities encroach into lion territory, vital habitat is converted into land for agriculture and livestock, leading to lion predation on cattle and other domestic animals.
Lions are also facing a decline in their prey supply, as there is a dramatic rise in illegal bushmeat poaching of herd species. Though intended to catch ungulates, lions can also fall victim to wire snares, which indiscriminately cause all species caught in them to become entangled and die.
With fewer wild prey, closer proximity to human settlements, and less ability to roam, lions are losing vital resources for survival. The most effective lion conservation efforts target these threats.