World Lion Day – August 10th

August 10, 2013  By: Gretchen
We are excited about World Lion Day 2013 and the opportunity to raise awareness about the plight of lions. We checked in with our friends in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park to learn more about the big day and what they are doing to help their lion population.
Lions are one of the world’s most iconic species and a vitally important predator in the African savanna. We invite you to celebrate World Lion Day to show your support for their urgent conservation. World Lion Day takes place on Saturday, August 10th, 2013 and is the first global campaign to celebrate the importance of the lion and highlight their increasingly threatened status. 
Photo: Male lion in Gorongosa (Jeff Reed)

The African lion is an invaluable apex predator that controls the delicate equilibrium of diverse savanna ecosystems. The species is severely threatened with habitat loss, loss of prey, human-wildlife conflict, and unsustainable hunting. One-hundred and fifty years ago there were an estimated 250,000 lions in Africa but a staggering 80-90% decline has left the population at a mere 25–30,000 lions today. If populations continue to decline at their current rate, the African lion faces sure extinction in the wild.

Photo: Gorongosa lioness (Paola Bouley)

Gorongosa National Park was once home to hundreds of lions and the folks that care for the park have a mission to make Gorongosa a lion stronghold once again. Between 30-50 lions are thought to occur in the Park today and research work is currently underway by the Gorongosa Lion Project to accurately document, protect and understand this resilient population. This work is not just important for the sake of Gorongosa’s ecosystem, but also for the future of the species in Central Mozambique.

Photo: Gorongosa lion cub (Miguel Bruno of Bushfind)

The Gorongosa Lion Project team –  Paola Bouley, Rui Branco, Tonga Torcida, and Fernandinho Mequicene – are currently in the park documenting new lions and studying the movements of the  various prides and coalitions across the more remote reaches of the Park.

While scientific monitoring is an important part of effective conservation, building community support and nurturing an understanding between people and lions is essential.  This month the team is hosting educational events in the Park and Maputo to raise awareness about the plight of lions.  They are also working in partnership with Gorongosa’s Community Education Center on a new educational initiative to create lion education media for the many thousands of youth living in the Park’s bordering communities.

Photo: Gorongosa vet Rui Branco safely radio collars their second lion, with help from Tonga Torcida and Fernandinho Mequicene.

If you love lions and you want to help, there are many ways to make a difference:

  1. DONATE and directly support the Gorongosa Lion Project, or one of the many other lion conservation groups.
  2. ATTEND one of our events in Maputo, Chitengo (in the heart of the Park) or Zoo Boise, Idaho.
  3. LEARN MORE about the World Lion Day campaign
  4. SHARE this post with your friends to spread awareness

The world’s lions will thank you!!