The Ugandan Lions: Don't Let Them Die
Today is World Lion’s Day. Unfortunately, the lion population in Africa has been reduced by half since the early 1950s with fewer that 20000 remaining in all of Africa today. Lions have vanished from over 90% of their historic range, with the biggest decline occurring in the last 2 decades. They are now extinct in about 26 African Countries. The lions are currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for the conservation of Nature(IUCN) Red list of threatened species. However, in some parts of the continent, the lions are now classified as “Critically Endangered”. In Uganda lions are mainly found in the three largest savannah parks: Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP), Kidepo Valley National Park (KVNP) and Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). In QENP, the Ishasha lions are known for their unique behavior of climbing trees and have been branded the "Ishasha tree-climbing lions" by tourists. Lions, after mountain gorillas, are the most sought-after species by tourists visiting Uganda.
A WCS assessment in 2006 showed that each individual lion in Queen Elizabeth National Park generated about $13,500 USD per year for the national economy in terms of the revenue it brought into the country. An influencing factor was that tourists are willing to stay longer just to see lions. Ecologically, lions play an important role in maintaining ecosystem health and balance by predating on herbivores, often targeting sick individuals and thereby keeping disease down, and disposing of carcasses.
his makes lions important to Uganda’s economy and ecology. Unfortunately, the community around these parks has not appreciated this immense value that the Lions add to our country and environment.
As we celebrate the World Lion Day- the life of the “Kings of the jungle,” World Wide Fund for Nature UCO joins other wildlife and nature conservation agencies to condemn and regret the recent act by the heartless Ugandans that claimed the lives of the “Big cats” at Hamukungu landing site in South Western Uganda.On April 11, 2018, social media and the mainstream media was washed with shocking news on the death of the eleven lions in the Queen Elizabeth National park. The regrettable news indicated that the three lionesses and eight cubs were found dead near Hamukungu fishing village in the park, a popular tourist destination and are suspected to have been poisoned.
Lions in Uganda have continued to lose their lives as the population throws and feeds them on meat laced with poison.Between May 2006 and July 2007, 15 lions were killed in the area in attacks blamed on landless herdsmen defending their cattle. In May 2010, five lions were killed in the park in another possible poisoning case. WWF Uganda hence calls upon the General public especially those living adjacent to the protected areas to do more in appreciating the value of lions to our economy and environment and hence protect them from being killed and eventual extinction.