Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) has expressed deep concern with the dramatic decline of Lion numbers in the country to a point where the species is listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
According to a statement issued Thursday by the DNPW Director, Brighton Kumchedwa, half of all wild Lions have been lost in the past 25 years with as few as 20,000 remaining in Africa.
“In the 1960’s, lions roamed across the whole of Malawi, but by 2010 that lion range had been reduced to just 13 per cent of the country’s land cover. Habitat loss and fragmentation, human-wildlife conflict and prey-base depletion, among others, are some factors driving the decline,” he stated.
Kumchedwa pointed out that Lions are the ultimate indicator species of healthy intact landscapes and protecting them and their habitats is a key conservation priority as such DNPW and partners are currently working on updating the country’s lion management plan.
“As one way of retrieving lions’ glory, the department and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust will launch the ‘Mkango: Pride of Malawi’ campaign on World Lion Day (August 10) which will be implemented across the country with the aim of sensitizing people on the cultural, economic and ecological benefits that lions bring.
“For success in the long term, we realise that it is critical that we have the support of communities especially those living around the protected areas. Lions are understandably feared as predators, and therefore sensitisation campaigns are crucial in conserving them,” the Director added.
African Parks reintroduced lions to Majete Wildlife Reserve in 2012 after they had been hunted down in the 1990s.
The organisation reintroduced nine Lions to Liwonde National Park, seven are from South Africa and two from Majete.
The World Lions Day was founded by Big Cat Rescue, the world’s largest accredited sanctuary dedicated to big cats, with the aim of raising awareness on lion conservation.