Pride of Africa: New Lion Conservation Alliance

Lioness resting on a sand bar, Niassa National Reserve, Mozambique (Photograph by Dr. Colleen Begg)
Lioness resting on a sand bar, Niassa National Reserve, Mozambique (Photograph by Dr. Colleen Begg)

It is a little known fact that there are more rhinos remaining in Africa than there are lions. In fact, until the killing of the lion ‘Cecil’ by a U.S. hunter in Zimbabwe earlier this year, it was also not popularly known that African lion numbers are in free-fall.

The statistics are disturbing. In 1975, estimates given by the IUCN put African wild lion numbers at approximately 200,000. Forty years on, there are thought to be fewer than 20,000 left. Lions have disappeared from more than 80% of their historical range.

And yet, there is still hope for Panthera leo. Across Africa, dedicated conservationists are working to ensure that this iconic species does not become extinct. And last month, a visionary new lion conservation alliance, PRIDE, was officially launched at Houston Zoo.

As the moniker suggests, the founders of PRIDE ( are all women. They are all determined conservation biologists who run individual projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique and all of whom have had extraordinary successes in lion conservation: Dr. Alayne Cotterill and Shivani Bhalla of Ewaso Lions; Dr. Leela Hazzah and Dr. Stephanie Dolrenry of Lion Guardians; Dr. Colleen Begg of Niassa Carnivore Project (NCP) and Dr. Amy Dickman of Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP).

The genesis of the alliance lay in a series of conversations between the six women, which unveiled their shared ethos – that of truly collaborative conservation. “We were all working towards similar goals and realised that there must be a way of working that would make our efforts more effective,” says Dr. Alayne Cotterill, a British biologist who has lived and worked in Africa for 19 years. A lack of collaboration between conservation organisations had long given rise to unnecessary —> Read More