Lions – The silent crisis impacting the king of the jungle

Hakuna Matata! It means no worries for the rest of your days.

You’ve all seen the movie, classic and new, hummed along to the song, but sadly in reality that “problem-free philosophy” is a big worry for  Lions…the much loved king of the jungle.⠀

Did you know that the number of lions in the wild has fallen from around 450,000 in 1950, to 40,000 when the first Lion King came out, to around 20,000 today? Shocking right?

Lions were once dispersed throughout the African continent. There are now no lions left in North Africa, they are functionally extinct in West Africa, and they are under threat everywhere else. If we don’t act now the only place our future generations will see what Lions looked like and behaved like will be in dated documentaries and photos.

Part of the issue is the demand for unethical animal tourism such as walking with lions and petting lion cubs, which is fuelling the canned lion industry. Sadly this is legal in places like South Africa so please avoid it when travelling there. Ignore the offers for tours and excursions pertinent to this. Lets not encourage the industry to boom!

It’s heartbreaking as lion cubs who are born into captivity are taken away from their mothers just days after birth. They are then fed and looked after by volunteers at certain facilities, under the guise of “conservation” and then used to make an income from petting and walking expeditions with tourists. Because they are hand-reared they become used to humans – totally unnatural for them!

Secondly fully grown lions are used in canned lion hunts where they are hunted and killed for sport in confined spaces. The lion skeletons are sold for the lion bone trade.⠀

Worrying right?⠀

The issue is these facilities claim that they are involved in conservation and research but let this be a wake up call. It is FAR FROM IT. Don’t rely on TripAdvisor reviews saying the experiences are “amazing” etc⠀

It is not worth taking a photo with these animals in this situation as you are contributing to the demand for this awful activity by doing so. As much as you may want a photo with a cute lion cub or an adrenalin rush snap with a fully grown one, please just don’t do it.
If you want to help donate towards saving lions check out the Lion recovery fund.⠀

Have you come across unethical activities? Report it to organisations like Born Free Foundation or WWF.

Want to see lions in person in an ethical way? Go on a safari in a national park and see them in their natural habitat. Park fees will go someway towards conservation efforts and Lions here will be free to prey, hunt, pounce, laze around and be themselves where they belong.


About Binny

Hi, I'm Binny - a writer, dreamer and serial wanderluster with a love for Wildlife Conservation. I am originally from Kenya but I now live in London. 'Karibu' to Binny's Food and Travel! I regularly share my experiences eating out, cooking and travelling, both in the UK and globally, as well as educate on the plight of Wildlife. I am an ambassador for World Animal Protection and regularly support the work of The Born Free Foundation, Four Paws and Dreams Come True Charity. I love packing my bags and going off on adventures as one of the best things about travelling is the ability to just get lost in it. To set aside the maps and itineraries and just see where the road takes you, learning and evolving and living in the moment along the way. It's my goal to get swept off my feet as often as possible!

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February 2021


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  1. Steve Daly wrote:

    Hi Binny,

    Thank you for such an insightful post and for highlighting the plight of Lions throughout Africa.

    On our visits to Kenya we have been so fortunate to see Lions, and the rest of the Big 5, up close and in their natural habitat. However, we have become increasingly concerned at the plight of a number of species, not just Lions. Have you noticed the decline in Vulture numbers for example? Not such a cute and cuddly looking beast as a Lion, but a vital part of the Circle of Life. Yet, their numbers have plummeted as a result of them feasting on carcases that have succumbed to poisoning by farmers trying to protect their livestock and livelihoods. We have also noticed a marked decline in the Cheetah population, seeing fewer and fewer comapred with say 10 years ago.

    Posted 8.3.19 Reply
    • Hi Steve, Thanks indeed and so I am going to try and cover eacb species one by one so that they get the coverage they deserve. The circle of life includes us humans and what we are doing to the planet – we need to radically change things around

      Posted 8.3.19 Reply
  2. Steve Daly wrote:

    I have also shared your post on my Twitter feed and Facebook. we need to raise awareness of this crisis as much as we can!

    Posted 8.3.19 Reply
  3. kerry wrote:

    Binny this is so sad, but we must educate ourselves and each other on this. I think good, genuine people have been duped into contributing to this industry totally unaware. I know I did with a Dolphin one and I was devastated when I realised the truth. I am a passionate animal/mammal lover, and was totally hoodwinked. I think the more we talk about it, the more we let social media platforms know that it is not ok to have these photos on their platforms, the word will slowly get out. Keep fighting the fight Binny, I am right along side you xxx

    Posted 8.3.19 Reply
  4. Laura wrote:

    Such an important issue. We have to look after these beautiful animals and maker sure they are forever living in the wild x

    Posted 8.19.19 Reply
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