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Ban the Importation of African Lion Trophies

African Male Lion photo by Beverly Joubert

African Male Lion photo by Beverly Joubert

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African Lion Returns to Gabon After 20 Year Absence

Lion close up Heart of Africa

photo by Joanne McGonagle

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Code Red for the Lions in West and Central Africa

Lion Heart of AFrica [Read more…]

Why You Should Never Pay to Play With Cubs

Lion cub the Columbus Zoo

Lion cub admired from afar at the Columbus Zoo

Lions Cubs Are to Be Admired Not Cuddled

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3 Cat Conservation Projects That Help Humans Too

Conservation programs that take into consideration the well-being and interests of the people that live with the big cats have the most chance of succeeding.  In the past, there has been a  conservation versus them approach and people were even removed from their homes as protected areas were off limits to local people.  Projects that work with  local people and  give them an incentive to save the big cats have a much better chance of success.  Here are three big cat conservation projects that help humans too.

1) Jaguar Corridor Lights Up Eastern Colombia

Jaguar - Panthera onca

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Lion Guardians Great Video About Successfully Saving Lions

Lion Guardians Promotes Coexistence between People and Lions

One of my favorite organizations is the Lion Guardians.  This community based conservation program is bringing hope for the survival of the African Lion.  I hope you will take time to watch the amazing video that was created to help bring more awareness and support for this amazing project.

Philip J Briggs Guardian and lion paw

The Lion Guardians Mission is:

 To promote sustainable coexistence between people and lion using cultural values, community participation and science.

The Lion Guardians program was initiated in 2006 by the Living with Lions project and the local communities, and was set into motion in collaboration with Maasailand Preservation Trust in January 2007 on Mbirikani Group Ranch in the Amboseli Ecosystem

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Lions to Live Better Lives Thanks to Genetic Testing

Distinctive Lions Will Live Better Lives Thanks to Genetic Testing

Scientists thought there was something different about the  fifteen lions living in the rundown Addis Ababa Lion Zoo.  The male lions living in the Ethiopian zoo have large, dark brown manes that extend down their chests through their front legs, down their backs below

Lion Addis Lion Zoo

Male Lion in the Addis Ababa Lion Zoo

their shoulders and the length of their belly through the groin. These male lions are also smaller in body size than their cousins from eastern and southern Africa.  These distinguishing features  in the Addis Ababa Lions made the biologists think this group of lions are  distinctive, and in fact, made them wonder if they could  be the relatives of an extinct lion subspecies.

It had been speculated that the Addis Ababa lions might be the last pure relatives of North African Barbary lions or South African Cape lions, both subspecies now extinct. Or could these 15 lions be a completely genetically distinctive population of lion?

The lions are descended from a private collection of the last Ethiopian ruler, Emperor Haile Selassie, who captured their ancestors from the wild and brought them to his palaces in the 1940’s.  Today, these lions live in the same holding pens as the first lions captured, only now the  zoo is in poor condition and the lions are lacking proper nutrition, and inadequate space.

Addis Lion zookeepers became so overwhelmed caring for the lions that they reached out to their German “sister city” Leipzig, for help. Vets from the Leipzig zoo traveled to Ethiopia to check the health status of the lions.  While examining the lions, a team of vets took blood samples for genetic investigations  for an international breeding program in case the results confirmed these lions are their own subspecies or perhaps their own genetic construction.

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Making Peace with Lions Richard Turere is a Wildlife Hero.

by Joanne McGonagle

Richard Turere’s “Lion Lights” Save Lives

Richard Turere is a young Maasai boy of 13, whose family lives  on the edge of Nairobi National Park, in Kenya. As is common among the

Richard Turere

Richard Turere
photo from TED.com

Maasai, Richard took over the responsibility for herding and safeguarding his family’s livestock when he was only 9 years old.  One of the threats to his family’s cattle, sheep and goats is the presence of African lions when they wander out of Nairobi National Park following the path of zebra and other prey animals searching for savannah grasses.

Richard grew up hating lions because at night, lions would sneak in and kill the family’s livestock while the boy was sleeping.  Determined to protect the families valuable livestock, Richard knew he had to think of a way to help him protect his animals from lion attacks.

Richard first built a fire, but realized even though the lions are afraid of fire, they were not afraid to go around the fire and snatch up a meal and in fact their path was made easier by the light of the fire.  Richard then tried to place a scarecrow to fool the lions into thinking that he was guarding his cattle, but this only worked for one night. Richard said, the lions are very clever, so when they returned the second night, they must have realized this scarecrow is not moving and so were no longer intimidated.

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Male and Female African Lions Hunt Using Different Strategy

Male and Female Lions Hunt Using Different Strategies

A Lion in Kruger National Park, South Africa

A Lion in Kruger National Park, South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I t has long been thought that male lions did not hunt, but rather were dependent on the lioness’s hunting prowess to sustain the pride. A study  recently published in the March 2013 issue of Animal Behaviour discusses how researchers used airborne  Light Detection and Ranging (LDAR) measurements of vegetation  structure in Kruger National Park, and combined a global positioning system (GPS) telemetry data on lion kills to quantify lines-of-sight where lion kills occurred as compared to where lions rested. What they found was significant differences in use of vegetation structure by male and female lions during hunts.

Males Ambush and Females Work as Team

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Performing Lions and Tigers Escape the UK Circuses

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Circuses End Performing Lions and Tigers in the United Kingdom

Gracey in Circus Wagon distance

Gracey, The Tiniest Tiger reminding us to not allow big cats to be confined in circus wagons.

Big changes are underway under the Big Top in the United Kingdom.  Traveling circuses have started their season but for the first time no circus will be entertaining the crowd with performing big cats.  The Great British Circus was the last show to feature tigers doing tricks and they sent their cats to an operator in Ireland just in time before the new animal welfare regulations became active last month.

The Victorian era ushered in circuses with performing elephants, lions and tigers on tour.  The last time  the circuses toured  without exotic animals was around 1768 when the first modern circus entertained the spectators with horses and riders performing daring feats.  Wild animals did not debut in the circus until after the British empire expanded in the 19th century.  Wild animals were captured and brought back to be put on display at a time when the average person had little chance of seeing a live lion, tiger or elephant let alone watch them performing tricks.

Over the last couple hundred years, our world is a very different place.  We have access to learning about and seeing lions, tigers and elephants from many sources, whether that be a zoological park, a sanctuary, learning via the internet or nature programs on television.  We also know more about the big cats that share our world and most people are concerned about how they are treated and find physical abuse unacceptable in modern society.

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