Lions. Africa’s most iconic animal. They really don’t need a special World Lion Day because they’re the everyday heroes of movies, books, legends, stories and billions of photos. They are magnificent creatures, beautiful, graceful, social, powerful – and threatened.
They used to range over just about all of Africa. Now lions are found in a paltry 8% of the continent. Their population in the African wild has declined by 50% over the last 25 years.
The main cause of the precipitous decline in the number of lions has been human/lion conflict. Only about half of lions today live in the protection of National Parks. The rest are in areas inhabited by rural farmers whose only wealth is in their small herds of goats and cattle. Inevitably, lions kill some of this livestock. And equally inevitably, the local farmers retaliate – with guns or poison – to defend their livelihood. In that conflict, lions are always the losers. Add to this the targeted poaching for lion body parts to feed a demanding Asian market; snare kills from the bushmeat trade; and the loss of lion habitat due to mining, trophy hunting and disease. No wonder there are only about 20,000 lions remaining.
Fortunately, organizations like the Lion Recovery Fund are working closely with local conservationists, governments and rural communities with the achievable goal of doubling the lion population by 2050. We are proud that the operator of our Tasimba safari camps, Wilderness Safaris, are deeply involved with the Lion Recovery Fund.
Lions on Tasimba safaris
Tasimba guests have been blessed with unforgettable lion encounters on every one of our safaris.
On one occasion, we sat for about an hour in our 4 X 4 just a few feet from this beautiful male lion lying peacefully by the side of the bush track. This was Xanda, the now fully grown son of the famous Cecil when he was the pride male here. On another occasion, in the fading light of dusk after a thunderstorm, we found Xanda calling for his pride. None of us will ever forget the powerful, thundering roaring that reverberated deep inside our body. Two of our guests put together this video clip of their encounter:
On other trips we were fascinated by the antics of young lion cubs at play; we watched a family doze on a woodpile in a summer downpour; breathlessly, our eyes followed a powerful male as he paraded by our tents; we saw a fat and happy pride of eleven dozing under a large acacia tree, sleepy from their full bellies of zebra fare, among many other wonderfully unforgettable encounters.
But we will never forget the poignant day we saw Bhubezi for the last time, looking thin and in poor condition. Just a shadow of his former self, Bhubezi was a powerful male lion who had dominated the area for some years after he ousted Cecil from his pride.
We’ve had incredible moments in the company of 400 Cape Buffalo as a pride of snarling lions took down two massive beasts right in front of camp.
We’ve seen lions stalk a herd of wildebeest; creep up to an impala rimmed waterhole; we’ve watched them feeding on many menu options; looked deeply into their tawny eyes and giggled as they played soccer with an unfortunate tortoise. Soooo many incredible memories!
Every lion encounter is a wonderful gift from nature. We are so fortunate to share experiences like these with all our guests. We hope that the tremendous conservation efforts now under way will ensure that our grandchildren can have their own amazing encounters with these enthralling cats in the African wild.
It’s World Lion Day.
There is hope.Lions can recover if entrepreneurial conservationists are empowered to address the biggest threats to lions—such as human-lion conflict, bushmeat poaching, and habitat loss. If the core protected areas in Africa were more effectively managed and the local communities around them were supported, we could have three to four times the number of lions we have today.Lion Recovery Fund
Tasimba. Safari with Lions. Naturally.
Important note: We work exclusively with Africa’s best eco-tourism company with whom you will be reliably secure in the knowledge that all current and new travel protocols will be always be adhered to. Be assured that we will postpone any trip if it is not safe to travel.