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Alarming Decline in Uganda’s Lion Population

The dwindling numbers at this park and others are a growing concern for conservationists.

Recent revelations regarding the lion population in Uganda have left animal conservationists deeply worried. With the statistics indicating a sharp decline, fears of these magnificent creatures facing extinction have been stirred.

The urgency surrounding this issue was highlighted during last Thursday’s World Lion’s Day celebrations. Conservationists, deeply troubled by the existing state of affairs, appealed to African governments to eradicate detrimental practices. These include captive breeding, petting, poaching, and the trade of lion body parts.

A concerning revelation by Ms Edith Kabesiime, the Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection, provided stark numbers to elucidate the gravity of the situation. She informed that the total lion count across Uganda’s sprawling savannahs and game parks has diminished to less than 400. “Once, lions freely roamed even in places like Kampala and our villages. Now, even in national parks, their numbers are precariously low,” she remarked.

The African lion, known scientifically as Panthera leo, stands proud as Africa’s largest big cat. Predominantly, they are found in expansive Savannah parks.

Adding to the concerns, Ms Kabesiime shed light on the growing interest among some African countries in captive lion farming, a model already in place in South Africa. With a staggering 12,000 lions in captivity in South Africa, she sounded a note of caution, stating, “This maltreatment of lions is a ticking time bomb and needs immediate intervention.”

The call for protection against human-induced threats, especially poaching, echoed loud and clear.

In an official statement, Mr Bashir Hangi, the spokesperson for the Uganda Wildlife Authority, confirmed the declining trend, putting the current lion population estimate in Uganda at 416.

Historical data further paints a grim picture. In 2000, a survey by the Lion Project and Uganda Wildlife Authority recorded 600 lions in the country. Come 2009, a subsequent survey by the Uganda Wildlife Authority noted a significant drop. For instance, Murchison Falls National Park witnessed a precipitous fall from 324 lions in 2000 to merely 132 in 2009.

Human activities, such as poisoning and poaching, along with an increasing human population, have been identified as the primary threats to lion conservation. Mr Hangi pointed out additional factors contributing to the decline, such as the vulnerability of newborn cubs to diseases and threats from other predators.

With the current trajectory, the future for these majestic creatures looks uncertain. The clarion call from conservationists is clear: Immediate and concrete steps are required to reverse this perilous trend and ensure the survival of the African lion.


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