How to Save 2,000 Lions from Extinction

Martin Pettitt/CC BY 2.0

Close your eyes and imagine the Kenyan landscape. Now, when you picture the grasses and the animals in this area rich with wildlife -- gazelles, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, hyena and warthogs -- make sure that you do not include lions. Why, you ask? Because that's what kind of a future we're dangerously leaning toward in Africa. Here are some frightening statistics:

In the last 20 years, the African lion population has dropped by 30-50%, and lions are gone from as much as 83% of their historical range in Africa. And in Kenya, the next 20 years could see the complete extinction of the remaining 2,000 lions.

Picture the African landscape without lions -- it seems like an impossible task, right? Ewaso Lions is a conservation group that wants to make sure it is impossible.

Ewaso Lions states, "The Ewaso Nyiro ecosystem of northern Kenya provides critical habitat for these big cats, and is one of the few areas in Africa where lions exist outside protected areas. Lions in this region are highly vulnerable as they come into regular conflict with pastoralists who live alongside large carnivores. Conflict occurs when lions attack livestock, and herders retaliate by fatally shooting, spearing, or poisoning lions and other large carnivores."

Using both scientific research to create conservation strategies as well as community-oriented programs, the group works to protect lions by promoting coexistence with them. They study the movement of lions, record lion-human interactions, and figure out not only how to reduce conflict with humans but to find ways people can benefit from lions being around. After all, tourism is a big money tree and what safari is complete without seeing a pride of lions snoozing in the shade?

The goal of Ewaso Lions is nothing short of courageous: figuring out how to save 2,000 lions. And not just save them, but help numbers grow.

Shivani Bhalla, founder of Ewaso Lions will speak at the Wildlife Conservation Network Expo in October about Ewaso Lions and their efforts. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area on October 13th, you'll want to attend!

Tags: Africa | Animals | Conservation