For close to three decades now, the lion population in Africa has halved, with wild lions disappearing from the continent. The steady decline in the number of lions started around the same time as the release of the popular Disney film, 'The Lion King'.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, only 23,000 lions are believed to be left in the wild, with the species completely disappearing from West Africa.
Humans constitute the major threat impacting the population of the majestic beasts who once ruled the plains of Africa. Due to human activities, such as poaching, pre-emptive culling and urbanization, the animals have been driven away from more than 90% of their homeland.
Experts fear the species may become extinct by 2050 if nothing is done to protect and preserve their natural habitats. They say it is important to protect lions, as their roles as predators is vital in maintaining a healthy balance with other animals.
Their protection includes safeguarding their hunting grounds, natural habitats, and helping regions to thrive, including the human populations that depend on local natural resources.
What’s a King Without a Kingdom?
When the film ‘The Lion King’ first came out, the animations of the fierce and wild cat soon became the favourite characters of thousands of children across the world.
But, barely two years later, the species were added to the ‘vulnerable’ Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Lion expert and conservationist Dr Craig Packer says most people were unaware of the issue before the release of the film, The Lion King in 1994.
When The Lion King first came out no one was worried about lion conservation. It’s happened over time...it was unrealistic to show one pride in the whole of Africa, or even Kenya, where they ruled and protected their territory, but now that’s not far from the truth in some areas.