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Africa's Lions: The Pride Needs Our Protection

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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's efforts in African carnivore conservation have led to some solid wins for lions, but a lot of work remains ahead. Apex predators – animals like lions that are traditionally at the very top of the food chain – are critical to the ecosystems in which they live, so protecting lions is about more than keeping the iconic big cats around for future generations. It’s also about preserving the ecology of Africa’s wilderness.

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Lions are listed as vulnerable by IUCN; populations have decreased by a shocking 87% since the 1960s. The main drivers of this trend, and the greatest ongoing threats to lions in the wild, are habitat loss and conflict with humans. As lions lose their historic ranges to human development, they become increasingly at odds with the people who share their home.

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Understandably, humans want to protect their families and their livelihood, and therefore are led to kill lions in prevention of – or retaliation for – the hunting of valuable livestock. Cultural norms and a connection between killing lions and social status also drive lion hunting in some area tribes.

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By creating benefits for local human communities that share a home with lions, and connecting these benefits to lion conservation, the Ruaha Carnivore Project has seen impressive and inspirational results in Tanzania’s Ruaha landscape. From community camera trapping to educational programs, scholarships, health care, and veterinary support, RCP has found a way to serve as a dynamic partner to local communities as well as a champion for lions and other large carnivores.

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We take great pride – no pun intended – in partnering with the Ruaha Carnivore Project, which continues to both broaden and refine its approach to protecting the lions and other carnivores essential to a healthy ecosystem in Ruaha and throughout Africa. Each year on August 10, we celebrate World Lion Day to honor and appreciate the lions who live here at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and to raise awareness and support for the conservation of Africa’s ‘royal’ cat, which needs our help year-round.

Read more here about what the Zoo is doing to secure a future for lions in the wild.

Make a donation to support lion conservation here.

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