With the hugely successful remake of The Lion King and 2019 World Lion Day on 10 of August, we decided to share this video about the majestic, ferocious and social big cats at Kariega. We hope by watching and reading you will learn something and understand how important it is to help protect the lion king.
There are estimated to be less than 25,000 wild lions remaining in Africa and they are listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Just over 100 years ago the wild lion population was as large as 200,000. As a result of trophy hunting, habitat destruction, poaching for body parts and poisoning, their numbers have decreased dramatically.
Get involved to help protect the lion king. We encourage you to donate to any of the charities listed on the 2019 World Lion Day website or to our Kariega Foundation which manages numerous conservation projects in partnership with Kariega Game Reserve.
10 Lion King Facts | 2019 World Lion Day
- The name Simba means lion in Swahili, spoken by the majority of Kenyans and also by people in Tanzania, Mozambique and Somalia.
- Lions are the most social of all big cats and live in groups also called prides.
- Male and female lions hunt, contrary to popular belief that only female lions are hunters.
- The mane of a male lion is used to protect their neck when fighting with other males over females, territories or food.
- The colour of the mane can be determined by age and genetics. Usually the older the male, the darker the mane.
- Being the laziest of the big cats, lions sleep for around 20 hours a day to store their energy. The more active they are, the more they need to eat, meaning more hunting and meaning more chance for injury which can cost them their lives.
- Lions will hunt on average every two to three days, depending how much they ate at the last meal.
- Lions are the only big cats with manes.
- A lion's diet depends on what is easily available. Some will hunt small mammals like antelopes, where bigger prides will even go for hippos and elephants. The prides need to be 20 or more to be able to tire out a big animal like this but if they can pull it off, they will have a huge amount of food to gorge on.
- The biggest threat to a lion is man. With trophy hunting, poaching for body parts and illegal breeding farms, wild lion numbers have decreased dramatically and they are vulnerable to extinction.
Don't Let the Lion King Suffer
If you have ever seen an advert of someone petting a lion or tiger cub you may be a bit jealous and perhaps put it on your bucket list to experience one day. But what if we told you that those lion cubs will probably be sold to a zoo, circus or slaughter house when they are old enough?
Lion interactions are a part of a horrible cycle and none of the stages are good for lions.
Captive lionesses are encouraged to mate, become pregnant and have three or four cubs. The cubs are then taken away at around two days old to ensure they have the cute factor for tourists. The female lion is left in her enclosure looking for her cubs which she will never see again. The lioness then goes back into oestrus, mates and becomes pregnant again and the whole cycle happens again.
In the wild a lioness will have a litter of cubs every four years or so. In breeding farms the lions are constantly being used to produce cubs. This is not good for their health and they usually succumb due to organ failure long before their time.
The cubs are used for tourists to hold, feed and as props in photographs. All a little cub wants to do in the wild is suckle from it's mother and sleep. Tourists often pay large amounts of money for the opportunity to cuddle a cub. The older the cubs gets, the less safe it is to handle and so they are sometimes used in walking with lion experiences. Lion walking is where there is a handler with a stick (for protection) and paying guests walk with lions.
When these lions become too old for lion walking they are usually put into an enclosure where they will be kept until they die or perhaps a trophy hunter chooses to shoot them. These lions could also be killed and packaged for their meat, bones and skin which is most often sent to South East Asia to be used in traditional medicines.
Kariega Game Reserve encourages you not to support any form of lion interaction, including cub petting, hunting and lion walks.
Conservation of the Lion King
In South Africa wild lions are now only found in fenced habitats such as private game reserves and national parks. Lions need large tracts of land and enough prey to sustain them. They also need to be able to find feasible mates. In southern Africa lions are often translocated to different reserves to make ensure that the genetics of the pride remains healthy and that inbreeding doesn't occur. At Kariega Game Reserve we are fortunate to protect a pride of healthy lions and work with neighbouring reserves to ensure genetic diversity.
There are many wildlife organisations fighting for these big cats all over the globe. Every lion removed from lion interactions, wildlife trade, circuses or illegal enclosures is one life saved.
We are pleased that many circuses around the world have removed wild animals from their acts. Although these animals will never be able to go back into the wild, many of them can at least live out their lives in a semi-natural habitat where they will be looked after.
We also are pleased that global attention is being focussed on canned lion hunting and breeding of lions and other wildlife for their body parts. We are hopeful that there will be a ban on this gruesome trade and that animals will no longer be exploited for monetary gain.
Lions should be free to roam in the wild like in the image below.
2019 World Lion Day Do Your Part
What can you do to help protect the lion king on World Lion Day? Here are some suggestions:
- Do not to support any wildlife interactions, especially petting lion cubs or walking with lions.
- Do not use traditional medicines that incorporate wild animal parts.
- Do not support canned or wild lion hunting.
- Don't go to a circus that includes lions and other wildlife.
- Get involved with a local wildlife charity or consider donating towards lion conservation. Follow this link to find the charities listed on the 2019 World Lion Day website.
- Volunteer your time on a conservation project such as the Kariega Conservation Volunteers.
- Visit our Kariega Foundation to find out about our conservation projects in partnership with Kariega Game Reserve. You can make an online donation or email us for further information.
- Book a safari at Kariega Game Reserve and see the wild lions for yourself. You will directly contribute to lion and other wildlife conservation through the Kariega Foundation conservation and community levy.
- Share this article and other information to raise awareness about the need to protect and conserve lions.
Photo credits: Jone Haesslich, Brendon Jennings and Daniel Haesslich.