(LIONS/WILDLIFE CONSERVATION) Today, August 10 is World Lion Day! Celebrating the almightly King of the Jungle, this international holiday aims to raise awareness about the plight of lions and help save them from extinction.
African lion numbers are dropping drastically as wealthy hunters pay tens of thousands of dollars to hunt these magnificent creatures. In July 2015, Cecil the lion was notoriously shot and killed by an American trophy hunter who paid a whopping $50,000 for the hunt. Almost exactly two years after the famed lion’s death, one of Cecil’s sons Xanda was also killed in similar circumstances during a trophy hunt last month.
Lions have been under threat of poachers for centuries, and the killing of Xanda just demonstrates how trophy hunters have learned absolutely nothing from the international outcry following Cecil’s death. These callous killers continue to poach even though there are as few as 20,000 African lions remaining in the wild.
We must call on government officials and the tourism industry to take responsibility–join the global movement today. Continue reading below for reasons to love lions this World Lion Day. — Global Animal
Patch, Beth Dalbey
Lions are among nature’s most majestic creatures and have been woven into religion and culture since the beginning of time. But they could be gone from the planet in about three decades without dramatic conservation efforts, according to the founders of World Lion Day, a Thursday, Aug. 10, observance spreading awareness about the “vulnerable” African lion and “endangered” Asiatic lion.
The decline of lions has been steep and dramatic. Millions of lions roamed the globe 2,000 years ago, but only about 20,000 remain today, living primarily in Africa, except for about 300 Asiatic lions living in India’s Gir Forest. Lion numbers have plummeted 43 percent in 21 years, or about three generations, due to indiscriminate killing in defense of human life or livestock, habitat destruction, poaching and the bush meat trade, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
There are many ways to observe World Lion Day and celebrate the species. Here are five reasons you should love lions:
Hear me roar: Male lions have deep, loud roars that can be heard up to 5 miles away. Tigers and jaguars also roar, but with a higher pitch. Scientists can’t account for the difference in tenor but believe lions roar to communicate and that male lions stake out territory with their ferocious roars.
Oh, you sexy thing: The males have gorgeous manes of fur, which is unique among cats. Charles Darwin, one of the originators of the theory of evolution, and other scientists once falsely thought the manes offered a thick layer of protection against injury during fighting. A 2006 scientific study basically showed that male lions toss and flaunt their manes in a sexual come-on to lioness.
Sisters for life: Males lions roam all over the countryside catting around, so to speak, but lionesses remain with their siblings, mothers and other preceding generations for life — or at least for the most part. The exceptions are the lionesses that spirit away when a new male lion swaggers in and deposes the pride leader, then kills his offspring to establish his own blood line. Females that do stray from the territory they were conceived in face a grim future alone. The naturally roaming males become fierce hunters, but pride-bound females unable to fend for themselves face drastically lower chances of survival.
One, two, three: Lions can count. Scientists say they count the number of roars they hear from competing prides to calculate both their strength and whether it’s safe to attack. Craig Packer, a University of Minnesota ecologist and one of the world’s top lion experts, concluded in long-running studies of African lions that they developed the ability to count as part of their continued evolution to dominate, not share, the savanna.
Don’t turn your nose up at that: Lions respond to foul smells the same way you might, by screwing your face into a contorted frown, wrinkling your nose and pulling back your lips in a pinched grimace. The expression as cats draw the acrid scent of another lion’s urine into their nostrils is known as the Flehmen response. The lion looks ferocious and threatening, but the display is simply a natural response as the scent passes over the cat’s vomeronasal organ, an auxiliary olfactory sense organ that is found in many mammals.