The Vanishing Lions
Saving the Lion

close up of lion

To reverse the trend, lion conservationists are enlisting every ally they can find. In early 2006, for instance, two groups — the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the Wildlife Conservation Society — held a “lion summit” in Johannesburg, South Africa. They invited Africans from all walks of life to share their views on what it might take to keep lion numbers from dwindling.

Community leaders, for instance, discussed the threat that lions pose to Africa’s growing livestock operations. As cattle herds push into lion habitat, some of the cats have developed a taste for the easy-to-kill cows. Farmers desperate to protect their livelihoods often kill the predators. One key to protecting lions, summit delegates agreed, is to find ways to help farmers better protect their herds. Sometimes the solution is just a stronger fence.

Other delegates discussed the importance of protecting the lion’s natural habitat and sources of food, such as large herds of gazelle. “If there is nothing for them to eat, they turn to livestock and people too, occasionally,” IUCN cat specialist Kristin Nowell told reporters. One key will be making sure prey species have enough room to roam, perhaps by creating new protected areas or better protection in existing parks.

Innovative ways of conserving lions were also on the agenda. In some areas, for instance, tourists will pay big money to see the big cats. If that income can be funneled into local communities, it can create a strong financial incentive to protect the animals, the delegates agreed. Local people often know best “how to live together with lions; they have been doing so for a very long time,” said James Murombedzi, who directs the IUCN’s office in Zimbabwe.

Ironically, even lion hunting might help protect the species, some delegates noted. As NATURE’s The Vanishing Lions shows, trophy hunting for lions can be an important source of income for guides and local inns. The trick is to make sure that hunters don’t kill too many, researchers explained. If limits are set correctly, delegates said in a statement, “trophy hunting [is not] a threat but rather a way to help alleviate human-lion conflict and generate economic benefits for poor people to build their support for lion conservation.”

Overall, organizers are optimistic that the summit will set a new course for lion conservation in Africa. “It helped us to understand where other people are coming from — different backgrounds, different philosophies,” said Julius Kipng’etich, who directs Kenya’s Wildlife Service. “At the end of the day, we boiled it down to one main problem: unsustainable lion populations.”

Now the challenge will be finding the money and political support needed to translate plans into action. Conservationists recall that last century, African governments created parks and reserves in order to to protect lions threatened by overhunting. That success proved fleeting, however, as other problems, including human population growth, emerged. Addressing these problems will take far more sophisticated and cooperative solutions, cautions the IUCN’s Kristin Nowell. But she says the history of lion conservation has provided an important lesson: “We don’t want this century to be a repeat of the last.” This time, conservationists say, people will need to learn how to live with lions…or end up living without them.

  • Alysha

    I watched the episode last night and thought maybe this could help… I make Hemp Jewelery and sell the Items at festivals and I’m willing to put away two dollars for each item sold to donate to African familys to help build fences.. Where Can i send the money to and can I have some more information?

  • Lois Holck

    I watched the episode last night, and would like to know the name of the lodge owned and operated by the local people.

  • lynsie

    save lions dont kill them

  • Jordan

    I also watched the episode and would like to know the name of the lodge owned and operated by the local people. I am in the process of planning a vacation to Africa and would like to support this project.

  • ziaire

    i love to lok at this episode i recorded it!how do you gyes do it tell me in your note

  • ziaire

    save lions dont kill them

  • oscar

    Save the Lions, even the trophy killing of a few lions to save a majority population is still an idea hard to chew on. It is a difficult task balancing the survival of a population of people who rely on the herds of cattle for a living, and the shrinking natural habitat and the natural resource of food that the lions depends on to survive. Anyone and everyone needs to see this episode to realize that this is a problem that is happening and can only be stabalized with everyones help.

  • K Landis

    I also watched the episode and would like to know the name of the lodge owned and operated by the local people. I am in the process of planning a vacation to Africa and would like to support this project.

  • courtney

    website for the lodge is

  • Diane

    I would like to know the name of the lodge owned by the people to save the lions. Please send info.-we would like to go there!

  • Bug Out Pest Control

    I watched the episode tonight and how can we put pressure on FMC to stop the purduction of the deadly pesiside Furadan.


  • justin

    just because lions kill to survive, doesn’t mean you have to kill them.

  • priyanka gupta


    There are 300 Asiatic Lions left in India, yet is The national Emblem of my country.
    I am starting an NGO (non government org) in hopes of working with the government to help regenerate the number of Lions since we seem to have forgotten to roar for them.
    My organization needs all the assistance to build a corridor for cubs to enter our country as the 300 are suspect in interms of breeding…

    1. Coordinate with the government
    2. Get funding to regenerate lion cub into existing sanctuaries
    3. Compile a team of animal behaviorists, doctors & scientists to rehabilitate, monitor and keep the cubs safe.

    I have uploaded a petition which I would like to present to the Government of India.

    Please assist me

  • led deckenleuchten

    Not to be in the know most of the time, I tend to dislike posts about this subject matter increasingly more but since you’re it in style too as in your own way, my partner and i gotta say truly really 1 of those great post to bear in mind.

  • Norma Glick

    Lions have always been my favorite carnivor. They are sleek, wonderful and beautiful
    animals who live in families called prides.
    They care for and raise their young in prides. anThe male lion, is such a fabulous strong and courageous
    fierce animal protecting his pride against other would be leaders.
    I hate to see incredible cats become extinct, as I would be so upset about that happening to
    any creature.
    Lets join together and support save the animals just in general.
    I want to support this important movement and encourage other
    people as well to assist and help.

  • ravi raju

    watch their grace,strength, itself is sheer joy…they are such a wonderful animals on this earth ,, save them and protect them…. without them we are really poor…. if we are human …. act for them… otherwise one day we will vanish on this very earth ….

    ravi raju

  • Kata

    i really wish we could have a LOT MORE BIG CATS around……… & a lot LESS humans. Humans are so much more of a threat to other humans than big cats are. . . . . Besides, i think we have enough humans. . . . .I LOVE big cats because they are exactly THAT: BIG cats. . . . .And i for one, would rather have all of these adorably cute, majestically beautiful, inspirational BIG CATS (as well as every other kind of animal, for that matter) everywhere than just MORE of THESE humans. . . . .

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