Today, there are an estimated 30,000 lions left in the wild © Bjorn Persson
As history has shown us, lions have been rooted in our hearts and minds as symbols of beauty, strength and bravery — but against the forces of humanity, they're undeniably fragile. As a result of our reckless desire, today there are only an estimated 30,000 lions left in the wild.
One of the greatest threats to lions is human conflict. As they lose more of their habitat to human expansion and their prey base dwindles, they often prey on livestock. As a result, farmers often kill lions as a retaliatory or preventative measure. In Kenya alone, 100 lions are killed each year like this.
The male lion is the most sought after in trophy hunts and when a dominant male lion is killed, the entire pride structure can collapse. Rival males will enter the hunted lion’s territory and kill the previous male’s cubs in order to sire their own, thus eliminating an entire generation of lions. Trophy hunting of free-roaming wild lions is especially damaging to pride structure and large lion genetics, as large breeding male lions are picked off as they patrol their large territories.
Canned hunting of lions is big business in South Africa. In that country lions are bred on farms and offered to hunters in small enclosures - hence the term ‘canned’. Approximately 600 lions are killed every year in this way. Proponents of canned hunting argue that breeding tame lions helps protect wild lion populations from being hunted, but that claim is not backed up by the facts, as canned hunting has introduced a new type of lion hunter - those with less time, money and patience.