The Desert Lions
Why Save the Desert Lions?

Like Africa’s other large carnivore species, populations of the lion, Panthera leo, have decreased significantly over the past half century, and precipitously over just the past ten years, from around 100,000 in the early 1990s to fewer than 30,000 today.

This decline is caused by a combination of habitat fragmentation, loss of prey, and deadly conflict with human settlers. It represents not just the potential loss of a single important and unique species, but could also have devastating effects throughout African ecosystems.

Ecologists once believed that ecosystems were largely influenced from the bottom up, with the numbers of prey species affecting the predators above them in the food chain. Over the past few decades, however, scientists have come to recognize that predators can also be the drivers of the system. A single predator can control factors such as the abundance, distribution, species diversity, and even the body shape of its prey — and, through a trickle-down effect — of all of the other species in the system. This effect was seen in Yellowstone National Park, when gray wolves, a “keystone” predator species, were eliminated from the park and the western United States in the early part of the 19th century. The lack of wolves caused population changes in prey species, like elk and beavers, and altered vegetation patterns, such as in the aspen trees and willows that grow along stream beds. With their recent return, the ecosystem quickly began to return to its former state. (See NATURE’s In the Valley of the Wolves.)

In a similar way, the loss of a top predator such as the lion can cause ecological changes. And without them, scientists lose any chance of understanding how all of the species in the ecosystem might normally interact.

Beyond its ecological significance, the lion is an important symbol in traditional African cultures, and is a key species in the growing eco-tourism industry, particularly in the northern Namib Desert, home to the animals featured in NATURE’s The Desert Lions. There is a delicate balance here — lions often prey on domestic livestock. Dr. Stander is working with local communities to prevent conflict between the lions and their human neighbors. If these communities can benefit financially from the lions, through eco-tourism activities such as “lion-photographic safaris,” they will have an economic incentive to tolerate the occasional loss of their livestock, and to help conserve the lions.

  • melina

    how to get desert information

  • Ali M

    I think lions must be saved because they are creatures.The animals that the lion eats are going extinct so the lion has nothing to eat so it too will be extinct. MORAL:Would you like humans to be extinct?

    Alibb7

  • simon firth

    If only we could grasp that once these creatures are gone they are GONE FOR GOOD. The solution has to be setting aside land and leaving it alone. Oh and a few lessons on contraception wouldn’t go a miss. 47 dont have kids, for a reason.

  • alice

    THE LIONS MUST BE SAVED OR ELSE THE WHOLE ECOSYSTEM WILL GO OUT OF ORDER

  • Elijah McCoy

    “SAVE THE LIONS”

  • kalie

    We have 2 save lions before there population really goes down. Once that happens lions will go extinct everywhere except for zoos

  • George Neri

    Many industrialists and capitalists since world war one and especially world war two with the European invasions of Africa along with the Portuguese in more modern times have wanted to bring massive city projects to Africa as they see it as a jewel to the world if the lands were to be used to create “modern” big cities. Proper water managements would give way to water irrigation sustaining life like in massive dwellings around the world however in my opinion this is something that must be taken away from the mentalities of these capitalists so that we do not lose a true ecosystem that supports most of the world with natural processes like manufacturing oxygen and other sustainable forms of wind and heat management to keep the temperature of the whole world in proper working order. If Africa and it’s way of existence is ever lost the whole world will suffer, however some kind of food cultivation and other forms of crops can be hugely successfully grown even in African sands as long as the lands are saturated properly and prepared. Africa must remain for the most part the way it is us as humans depend on it or we will suffer in the long run. SAVE OUR AFRICA AND OUR LIONS!! WE MUST!! There is an old proverb that my ninety-five year old grandfather taught me “whom warns you of impending danger is your friend,” we need to find a way to co exist with the worlds wild life, people moving is one way, fencing is another, look at Brazil they have whole subdivisions in enclosed fencing and so do other big city suburbs to keep our human street lions and other criminals away, so why can’t a village of even a hundred or so move? in this modern age let’s be realists there has to be some great thinker out there who can resolve this resolution so no one animal or person dies!
    Well something must be done now or else one day like in the cities of the world we may one day only be able to see Lions with out there souls, alive but numb and dead of their true colors and wild spirits, so what’s the point we don’t live in cages, so why should our power animals of the world?

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