Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Endangered animals - Lions

Even predators like lions are today facing huge decline in their population. Their number has drastically decreased from about 100,000 in early 1990s to current number of only somewhere between 15,000-50,000.

Lions are second largest cats, just after tigers, and some males can even exceed 250 kg (550 lb). Lions currently have their habitats, usually savannas and grasslands, in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia. They are critically endangered in northwest India. Their lifetime in wildness is approximately 10-14 years. They are very social animals (unlike many other cats) and live in well organized groups-prides. Pride of lions consists of related females and offspring and a small number of adult males (sometimes only one adult male).

Some refer to lions as "lazy animals" because they rest about 20 hours each day. Though they rest a lot they are still very successful predators. Successful and smart that is, because they usually hunt in groups using stalking techniques, sneaking to their victim, surrounding it from different positions and once victim is surrounded they start attack (this is usually done by several female lions).

Lions mating bout can even last several days, and during these days couple copulates twenty to forty times a day. Lion cubs are very small when being born, only weighing 1.2–2.1 kg. Since life in wilderness is hard and dangerous about 80% of the cubs die before reaching age of two.

Scientists are still not certain what is the reason of recent decline in lion population. We are talking about severe decline of 30–50% over the last 25 years. Since lions have no natural predators only logical reasons for this decline seem to be habitat loss and conflicts with humans. Some wildlife experts also mention the problem of geographic isolation of remaining populations which often leads to inbreeding and lack of genetic diversity.

Despite this decline in population lions are still not listed as endangered, but if current decline continues they will definitely be among favorites to be included on this list. Asiatic subspecies are already listed as critically endangered. There are some important conservation projects going in Asia, like India's Gir Wildlife Sanctuary that contains about 200 lions doing all what it can to preserve remaining number.

There are also Etosha National Park in Namibia, Serengati National Park in Tanzania and Kruger National Park in South Africa that play important role in lion conservation efforts. But in many other areas lions are still totally unprotected. This especially refers to Asia where it is necessary to start a second population of lions so it could serve as the gene pool for the last surviving Asiatic lions, hopefully developing genetic diversity needed for lions to survive.


Asiatic lions - Critically endangered

6 comments:

  1. i think that lions arent endangerd but this has proved me wrong.



    This is a great site!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. loosing tigers would truly be a tragedy

    ReplyDelete
  3. loosing the lions would be a sad thing

    ReplyDelete
  4. I never knew that lions weren't endangered but thats still crazy how their population decreased by that much!

    ReplyDelete
  5. this is so crazy ahhh !! I hope that the lions will find a better place to live

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lions are endangered. If we continue like this, they'll go extinct.

    ReplyDelete