Lions back to Rwanda after fifteen years


This video is called Wild Botswana: Lion Brotherhood HD Documentary.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Lions to be reintroduced to Rwanda after 15-year absence following genocide

Seven big cats will be taken from South Africa to Akagera national park, where lion population was wiped out, in major conservation project

David Smith in Johannesburg

Sunday 28 June 2015 16.00 BST

Seven lions in South Africa are to be tranquillised, placed in steel crates and loaded on to a charter flight to Rwanda on Monday, restoring the predator to the east African country after a 15-year absence.

Cattle herders poisoned Rwanda’s last remaining lions after parks were left unmanaged and occupied by displaced people in the wake of the 1994 genocide, according to the conservation group African Parks, which is organising the repopulation drive.

It said two parks in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province with “relatively small, confined reserves where it is necessary to remove surplus lions” are donating the big cats to Rwanda. The seven – five females and two males – were chosen based on future reproductive potential and their ability to contribute to social cohesion, including a mix of ages and genetic makeup.

From Monday they will be transferred to Akagera national park in north-east Rwanda by truck and plane in a journey lasting about 26 hours. African Parks said: “They will be continually monitored by a veterinary team with experience in translocations. They will be kept tranquillised to reduce any stress and will have access to fresh water throughout their journey.”

Upon arrival at the 112,000-hectare park, which borders Tanzania, the lions will be kept in quarantine in a specially-erected 1,000m² enclosure with an electrified fence for at least two weeks before they are released into the wild.

The park is fenced, but the lions will be equipped with satellite collars to reduce the risk of them straying into inhabited areas. African Parks said: “The collars have a two-year life, by which time the park team will have evaluated the pride dynamics and only the dominant individuals in each pride will be re-collared.”

As a wildlife tourist destination, Rwanda is best known for its gorilla tracking safaris. But Akagera, a two-hour drive from the capital, Kigali, is home to various antelope species, buffaloes, giraffes and zebras, as well as elephants and leopards. It attracted 28,000 visitors in 2014.

Last year, as part of the preparations for the reintroduction, the Akagera team ran a sensitisation programme in communities surrounding the park to promote harmonious co-existence with lions.

Yamina Karitanyi, the head of tourism at the Rwanda Development Board, said: “It is a breakthrough in the rehabilitation of the park … Their return will encourage the natural balance of the ecosystem and enhance the tourism product to further contribute to Rwanda’s status as an all-in-one safari destination.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the lion as vulnerable in an update this month of its red list of species facing survival threats. It noted lion conservation successes in southern Africa, but said lions in west Africa were critically endangered and rapid population declines were also being recorded in east Africa.

African Parks cited human encroachment on lion habitats and a decline in lion prey as reasons for the population drop. It identified a trade in lion bones and other body parts for traditional medicine in Africa, as well as Asia, as a growing threat.

Peter Fearnhead, the chief executive of African Parks, which manages Akagera and seven other national parks on the continent, said: “The return of lions to Akagera is a conservation milestone for the park and the country.”

See also here.

Apparently Rwanda plans to reintroduce black rhino as well as lions to Akagera NP this year, to have the “big five”: here.

KILLER OF CECIL THE LION IDENTIFIED “An American dentist with an affinity for killing rare wildlife using a bow and arrow has been identified as the man who shot and killed Zimbabwe’s most famous lion earlier this month, local officials claim.” The Internet backlash has been swift. [HuffPost]

WHAT JANE GOODALL THINKS OF CECIL THE LION’S DEATH “Only one good thing comes out of this — thousands of people have read the story and have also been shocked. Their eyes opened to the dark side of human nature. Surely they will now be more prepared to fight for the protection of wild animals and the wild places where they live.” [The Dodo]

Lion, African golden cat, lynx news


This January 2014 video is called West African Lions Close to Extinction.

By Jeremy Hance:

Cat update: lion and African golden cat down, Iberian lynx up

June 23, 2015

A new update of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorized the West African population of lions—which is considered genetically distinct and separate from East and Central African lions—as Critically Endangered. Based largely on a paper in 2014, the researchers estimate that there are only 121-375 mature lions in West Africa today.

“The main drivers of lion declines are large-scale habitat conversion, prey base depletion through unsustainable hunting, and the retaliatory killing of lions due to perceived or real human-lion conflict,” reads the assessment.

Most of the remaining lions (Panthera leo) are found in protected areas, but lack of prey—due to widespread poaching—and the encroachment of cattle on parks has helped decimate lion populations in the region. Burkina Faso and Benin have both held trophy hunts of lions in the last decade as well.

West African lions are found west of the lower Niger River. Today they only survive in parks in Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.

This video says about itself:

First known footage of elusive African golden cat in daylight

28 January 2015

Extremely elusive African golden cat shown hunting red colobus monkeys.

The Jeremy Hance article continues:

The update to the IUCN Red List also raised the stakes for another African feline. The list has moved the little-known African golden cat (Caracal aurata) from Near Threatened to Vulnerable. The rainforest-loving species has been hard hit by deforestation, poaching and snaring. Indeed, researchers say the cat disappears in forests with a heavy human presence.

“This update shows that we are still seeing devastating losses in species populations. The IUCN Red List is the voice of biodiversity telling us where we need to focus our attention most urgently—this voice is clearly telling us that we must act now to develop stronger policy and on-the-ground conservation programs to protect species and halt their declines,” said Jane Smart, Director, IUCN’s Global Species Programme.

This December 2014 vuideo is called Iberian Lynx Cat (Nat Geo Wild) Full Documentary HD.

Still, it’s not all bad news. After decades of conservation work, the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) has been moved from Critically Endangered to Endangered. Today, 156 mature Iberian lynx roam Spain and Portugal, up from 52 just a decade ago.

Considered the world’s most endangered cat, conservationists brought the Iberian lynx back from the brink by rebuilding the rabbit population, captive breeding and reintroductions, and cracking down on illegal trapping. In addition, conservationists paid landowners to improve habitat for their lynx on private land.

“This IUCN Red List update confirms that effective conservation can yield outstanding results,” said Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. “Saving the Iberian Lynx from the brink of extinction while securing the livelihoods of local communities is a perfect example.”

Today, conservationists report that cars may be the biggest peril to ongoing recovery of the Iberian lynx.

From Wildlife Extra:

While the Guadalupe Fur Seal (Arctocephalus townsendi), which was twice thought to be Extinct due to hunting in the late 1800s and 1920s, has now improved from the Near Threatened category to Least Concern, thanks to habitat protection and the enforcement of laws such as the USA Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Biologist George Schaller gets medal


This video says about itself:

Serengeti Lions and George Schaller

9 December 2008

George Schaller, Ph.D., the world’s preeminent field biologist, is with the Wildlife Conservation Society and has traveled across the globe to work with a variety of species, including two rediscovered species once thought extinct. Here he discusses his work with lions.

From Wildlife Extra:

Panthera’s Vice President Dr. George Schaller receives National Geographic Society’s prestigious Hubbard Medal

The conservation charity Panthera’s Vice President and legendary biologist Dr. George Schaller has been awarded National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal for his lifetime commitment to conserving the world’s wildlife.

Recognised by many as the world’s preeminent field scientist and naturalist, Dr. Schaller has dedicated six decades to protecting and studying some of the planet’s most endangered and iconic animals, including mountain gorillas, snow leopards, lions, Tibetan antelope, wild yak, jaguars, giant pandas and tigers.

Schaller has been instrumental in establishing more than 15 protected areas around the globe on behalf of these wild animals, often single-handedly forging partnerships with heads of state, national governments, NGOs and local communities. In 1956, Schaller joined other biologists on the Murie expedition to Northeastern Alaska, which resulted in the establishment of the world’s largest wildlife preserve – the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Panthera’s CEO Dr. Alan Rabinowitz shared, “George is a conservation legend and a true champion for wild animals and places everywhere. As one of the world’s foremost wildlife biologists, he helped to carve and create the field of wildlife conservation. Armed only with a notepad, George courageously charted untouched territories in search of wildlife, and continues to do so even today.

“Named for the National Geographic Society’s first president, Gardiner Greene Hubbard, the Hubbard Medal is the Society’s highest honour, recognizing individuals’ lifetime achievements in exploration, discovery and research. Past recipients include Charles Lindbergh, Jane Goodall, Jacques Piccard and James Cameron.

Good to hear that medal is not named for L Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology cult :)

Where have all the lions gone, music video


This 26 May 2015 music video is called Where have all the lions gone.

From Lion Aid:

Where Have All The Lions Gone? Words by Revd Lynne Chitty, music and vocals by Kerst

26 May 2015

The Reverend Lynne Chitty has written the most moving words to express the emotion we are all feeling as we watch the majestic African lion being slaughtered almost to extinction through trophy hunting. Lions are paying a terrible price for man’s desire to kill lions for sport, from both wild lion hunting and from the hideously cruel canned lion hunting. We can no longer sit back and do nothing………

She asked Kerst, a singer/songwriter if he could compose some music to accompany her words……

Between them, they have produced the most poignant song.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE LIONS GONE?

Where have all the lions gone
it seems just yesterday
when roaring could be heard at dusk
and cubs were free to play
Where have all the lions gone
Tell me do you know
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so

The plains have all grown silent
Shots are the only sound
Majestic beasts that loved to roam
Lie dead upon the ground
With trophy hunters smiling
Delighted at their kill
Shooting drugged canned lions
For pleasure and at will

Where have all the lions gone
it seems just yesterday
when roaring could be heard at dusk
and cubs were free to play
Where have all the lions gone
Tell me do you know
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so

Blood is on the hunters hands
But it is on ours too
If we don’t speak out in protest
And do all we can do
There’s just too many people
Taking lands that lions need
We have to find an answer
To mans desires and greed

Where have all the lions gone
it seems just yesterday
when roaring could be heard at dusk
and cubs were free to play
Where have all the lions gone
Tell me do you know
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me its not so
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so

Earth is home to everyone
To every creature too
We’re entrusted with their welfare
And with their future too
We can all live together
John and Christian showed us how
Love is universal
And love is needed now.

Where have all the lions gone
it seems just yesterday
when roaring could be heard at dusk
and cubs were free to play
Where have all the lions gone
Tell me do you know
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so

Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me its not so

Lynne has set up a Just Giving page for all those who would also like to do more to help. Click here to donate.

LionAid are fighting for legislation change to bring about a ban on both wild and canned lion trophy hunting. It is a slow process with many setbacks along the way but slowly we can see the first green shoots of change happening.

All funds raised from this song will go towards this campaign to protect lions from being slaughtered by trophy hunters.

A heartfelt thank you to all of you who contribute to this campaign and of course to Lynne and Kerst for producing the most haunting song to give voice to the overwhelming emotion we are all feeling as the lions die one by one…..

‘Extinct’ lion seen in Gabon


This video says about itself:

Incredible new footage of lion, thought to be extinct in the Gabon

9 March 2015

Watch this incredible new footage of a lion, thought to be extinct, spotted in Plateaux Bateke National Park in Gabon, Africa.

The last observation of lions in the area were made in Odzala National Park in northern Congo in 1994 and in Plateaux Bateke National Park in south-east Gabon in 2004.

From Wildlife Extra:

Video proof of a lion in Gabon for the first time since the 1950s

New camera trap footage from southeast Gabon has revealed a male lion in a region of Africa where the species was believed by scientists to be “locally extinct.”

Two camera trap videos taken in the same fortnight depict a single male lion roaming along an elephant path in the Gabonese region of the Batéké Plateau.

This savannah landscape extends across southeast Gabon and into the Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where lions last roamed in any great number in the 1950s.

The footage was recorded as part of a chimpanzee study in Batéké Plateau National Park led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and The Aspinall Foundation, partners of big cat conservation organisation Panthera.

Immediately following the discovery, Panthera joined with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, The Aspinall Foundation and Gabon’s National Park Authority (ANPN) to mount a new, intensive lion survey in the Gabonese park.

Panthera’s Lion Program Survey Coordinator, Dr Philipp Henschel, explains, “This footage is truly unexpected, and yet wonderful proof that life for the lions of Gabon and the region still remains a possibility.

“The videos demonstrate that the efforts of the Gabonese authorities to protect this landscape, starting with the designation of the Batéké Plateau National Park in 2002 after an initial lion survey in the area, have been successful.”

In 2001 and 2003, Dr Henschel led lion surveys on the Gabonese side of the Batéké landscape, walking several hundred kilometers in search of Africa’s biggest wild cat.

Henschel’s team found almost no wildlife during the expeditions, and camera traps set during the surveys produced more photos of Congolese poachers than of animals.

Habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching and illegal hunting of the lion’s prey species contributed to the loss of lions in the region by the end of the last century.

Until recently, lions were known to be present on the DRC side of the Batéké Plateau. Dispersing male lions can also easily travel 300-400km from their natal area.

The new survey aims to determine if the male lion filmed in Gabon is a solitary individual which may have immigrated from a remnant population in the Malebo region of the DRC, or if it is part of a new, breeding lion population in Gabon.

Survey data confirming the number and location of lions remaining in the unique forest-savanna mosaics of the Batéké Landscape will allow Panthera and partners to devise a strategic conservation strategy and initiatives for this unique and isolated population.

Learn more about Panthera’s lion conservation efforts carried out through Project Leonardo.

Two lion subspecies in Africa, new research


This video is called Lions Documentary National Geographic – The Kingdom of Lion.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands:

African lion has two subspecies

The traditional separation of lions in an African and an Asian subspecies is unjustified, says biologist Laura Bertola. In Africa two subspecies live. PhD defence on March 18th.

Unique position

Lions are found in virtually all of Africa and a small part of India. Until now, they were divided into two groups: an African subspecies, Panthera leo leo, and an Asian subspecies, Panthera leo persica. This format is not correct according to Laura Bertola. They examined the DNA of lions in Africa and India. The animals in West and Central Africa are more like the Asiatic lions than like other African lions. Bertola: “They are clearly different from the lions in the rest of Africa. You can speak of two African subspecies. The unique position of the lions from West and Central Africa calls for even better protection. Especially because these populations are under great pressure. ”

Separated by rainforest and desert

Changes in the African climate over the last 300,000 years separated certain populations,” says Bertola. “The expansion of dense rainforest and dry desert formed a barrier to the lions. The historical isolation which arose so, is still visible in the DNA. From the DNA we can deduce what groups recently have been contacted and which groups have long been separated in their mutual evolution.”