Africa’s Imperiled Wild Lions Don’t Need Petting and Walking Operations/dos Leões Selvagens de África Não Precisam de Festinhas e Passeios
*Translated in to Portuguese – see below.
Paola Bouley & Dr. Rui Branco – Projecto Leões da Gorongosa, Mozambique. www.Lions.Gorongosa.org.
Dr. Colleen Begg – Niassa Carnivore Project, Mozambique. www.Niassalion.org
Dr. Matthew S. Becker, Zambian Carnivore Programme, Zambia. www.ZambiaCarnivores.org
Recent attempts by “walking with lions” or “cub-petting” operators to to establish new commercial ventures in Mozambique and Zambia under the guise of “lion conservation” should raise serious concern among our environmental and governmental leaders.
Commercial “lion encounter” ventures have undeniably exploded in popularity in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia recently with well-intentioned tourists being drawn into these facilities and into believing their visits support conservation of lions in the wild. Unfortunately, quite the opposite is true, and at a time when wild lion populations need all the help they can garner these operations are actually doing our national parks and reserves a great disservice. They divert much-needed tourism away from established protected areas and attention away from what is really needed to secure survival of the species across the continent – that is, recognizing the root causes for the rapid decline of wild populations underway and putting the full weight of our efforts towards meaningfully strengthening protections for the species through long-term, complex and integrated conservation solutions.
A Call to Action
While the many problems associated with “walking with lion” industry have now been addressed by experts repeatedly (e.g. Hunter et al. 2012, Hunter 2012), potential operators continue to surface. Just recently venture operators have been making the rounds in Mozambique and attempting to establish facilities and offload their surplus lions (lion cubs quickly outgrow captive facilities) into protected areas like Niassa Reserve and Gorongosa National Park, and secure —> Read More