The King of the Jungle Is Losing Ground

October 28, 2013

Populations of lions in Uganda are shrinking. The country is often described as the “Pearl of Africa” for its natural wonders.

A symbol of Africa and a mainstay of tourism is losing ground in Uganda. African lions are in decline and on the verge of disappearing from the country’s national parks. The loss of lions is mostly the result of poisoning by local cattle-herders in retaliation for attacks on livestock and other human-related conflicts.

According to a recent survey by WCS and partners, these popular animals have decreased by more than 30 percent over the past decade in some areas of the country. Using buffalo calf distress calls and roars to lure the big cats to “call stations” in Uganda’s three major lion strongholds, the scientists concluded that just 408 lions remain. That’s nearly 200 fewer animals than studies found in 2000-2002.

The downward trend in lions will affect many parts of the ecosystem, as the large predators play an important role in the food chain, and aid disease control for sick animals like antelopes and buffalo. Uganda’s tourism industry could also suffer – surveys show tourists would be half as likely to visit the parks if they couldn’t see lions. Lion population trends in Ugandan parks reflect problems across Africa and present an undeniable need to increase conservation efforts.

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