Big 5 Week – Lion


The Lion (Panthera leo) is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List with a declining population trend. There is estimated to be between 23000-39000 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

4178030_4178030_960x0.jpgLions are only absent from tropical rainforests and the interior of the Sahara desert, making themselves at home in all other habitats. Lions can live relatively independently of water and in very arid conditions as they are able to obtain their moisture requirements from prey and plants. Their preferred prey is medium to large sized ungulate such as zebra and antelope; but they can and will take almost any other animal. Lions are also known to scavenge and will displace smaller predators, such as the Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), from their kills. Lions are the most social of the cats with non-related females remaining in prides.

ap_668819555077-1--53688ebf9ea42fc8eb6c1761b36f3e6dda337c74-s300-c85.jpgLions face difficulty from prey base depletion and habitat loss and conversion. They are also a favourite animal of trophy hunters and so face many human killings. There is also a large illegal trade base for lion body parts. All these factors have lead to the decline of the numbers of lions in the wild.


Lion-2014-Pamela-Reed-Sanchez-Chester1-e1461541649929.jpgLions are listed on Appendix II of CITES. Also, in Africa most lions are present in large and well managed protected areas. As lions are a popular tourist favourite, the wildlife tourism profits help to go toward the conservation of lions.

However, the continued decline in the numbers of lions have shown that the political priority and funding for conservation is not currently sufficient.

2014-04-18RHawk050Lion_Xerxes-horiz.jpgIf you want to donate to the conservation of lions, there are a couple of way you can do this.

If you visit Born Free you can adopt a lion for £2.50 a month. In the adoption pack you receive a cuddly toy, a picture of the lions you can adopt (Sinbad and Achee), Sinbad and Achee’s full story, a personalised adoption certificate, a Born Free window sticker and a Born Free folder. You will also receive the ADOPT! magazine twice a year with update on the lions.

You can also donate to LionAid if you don’t want to adopt and just want to donate. At LionAid you can pick the amount you wish to donate and how often.

You can also read more on my Animal Travels: Kenya post.


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Animal Travels: Kenya

Kenya is a country in East Africa with a population of just over 43 million people. Kenya is a popular tourist destination for seeing wildlife such as ‘The Big 5’ and with 224,610 square miles savannahs and tropical and subtropical rainforests its clear to see why Kenya is so abundant in wildlife.

(Loxodonta africana)
African_Elephant_7.27.2012_whytheymatter_HI_58709.jpgThe African Elephant is classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. There is evidence that the African Elephant should be split into two separate species: The Savannah Elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis). The African Elephant is the largest terrestrial (land) animal, and luckily for them their numbers are on the rise.

They can be found roaming in dense forests, open and closed savannahs, grassland and occasionally in arid deserts. The African Elephants do have some major threats to their survival. Historically the main threat came in the form of illegal hunting (poaching) for ivory and meat. However, recently the most current threat is the loss and fragmentation of habitat.

(Syncerus caffer)
african_buffalo_1.jpgThe African Buffalo is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. Its believed that there is around three of four different subspecies of African Buffalo: The Forest Buffalo (S.c nanus), the West African Savannah Buffalo (S.c brachyceros), the Central African Savannah Buffalo (S.c aequinoctialis) and the Southern Savannah Buffalo (S.c caffer). Unfortunately for the African Buffalo their numbers are on the decline.

They are distributed throughout sub-Saharan African and can be found in semi-arid bushland, Acacia woodland, montane grasslands and forests, coastal savannahs and moist lowland rainforests. African Buffalo have faced several major threats to their survival. In the 1890s the rinderpest epidemic, coupled with pleuro-pneumonia, caused mortality rates as high as 95%. Since the 1890s diseases such as rinderpest and anthrax have continued to result in localised declines and extinctions in populations. The African Buffalo is also subject to habitat loss and drought. They are also a favourite target of meat hunters and so have high rates of illegal hunting.

(Acinonyx jubatus)
Cheetah_portrait_Whipsnade_Zoo.jpgThe Cheetah is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and their numbers are currently in decline with only 6674 mature individuals left in the wild. Cheetahs are the only cat that has non-retractile claws and are the fastest land mammal.

They can be found in the dry forest and thick scrub, grasslands and also in hyperarid deserts. The Cheetah is facing some major threats to their survival. Habitat loss and fragmentation is causing big problems for the cheetahs, as well as high speed roads and human-cheetah conflict. Cheetahs rarely hunt livestock but in desperate times they will choose livestock as their prey, this results in retaliation kills from the farmers.

(Panthera pardus)
Leop_Billy.jpgThe Leopard is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and they currently have a decreasing population trend.

Leopards can be found in desert and semi desert regions, arid regions, rugged montane and savannah grasslands. Leopards are currently facing major threats from habitat fragmentation, reduced prey bases and from conflicts with livestock.

(Panthera leo)
nws-st-african-lion-male.jpgThe African Lion is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and again they currently have a declining population trend, with around 23000-39000 mature individuals in the wild.

African Lions are only absent from the tropical rainforests and the interior of the Sahara desert. Lions are the most social of the cats with related females remaining together in prides. African Lions are facing major threats from indiscriminate killings, prey base depletion and habitat loss and conversion.

(Diceros bicornis)
rhinocloseup_351196.jpgThe Black Rhino is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List but luckily their current population is increasing.

Black Rhinos can be found everywhere from desert areas to wetter forested areas. The highest densities of black rhino are found in savannahs and in succulent valleys. Black Rhinos are facing a major threat from poaching for the international rhino horn trade, and also from habitat changes, competing species and alien plant invasions.

(Giraffa camelopardalis)
Misha-giraffe-670328.jpgThe Giraffe is currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and unfortunately the current population numbers are decreasing with around 68293 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

Most giraffes can be found in savannah and woodland habitats. Giraffes have four major threats to their survival:
1. Habitat loss
2. Civil unrest
3. Illegal hunting (poaching)
4. Ecological changes

(Hippopotamus amphibius)
hippo-facts-3.jpgThe IUCN Red List lists the Hippopotamus as Vulnerable and their current population numbers are stable. The hippo spends its days in the water and emerges at night to feed. Hippos require a permanent source of water as their skin needs to remain moist so that it doesn’t crack. They also secrete a red liquid that is believed to function as a sunblock and an antibiotic.

The major threats that are affecting the survival of the hippo come from habitat loss and the illegal and unregulated hunting of hippos for their meat and ivory.


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My Top 5 Wildlife Charities

For this special post I’m going to talk about my 5 favourite animal charities in the hopes that some people that read my blog might end up following the missions of these charities and together help out as many animals in need as possible.

  1. Project AWARE
    mT7uAQAf.jpgFormed in 1989 as an environmental initiative by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Their aim was to increase environmental awareness. Project AWARE is most famous for its Shark and Ray project and its Dive Against Debris project.
  2. The main campaigns that Project AWARE is currently running are Divers4Makos which aims to end uncontrolled Mako shark fishing. You can sign the campaign here. They are also currently running the Dive Against Debris project. This project allows you to use your phone to take actions for a clean ocean. You can report debris in the ocean via the Dive Against Debris app.
  3. You can visit the Project AWARE store here or you can also donate to Project Aware here.
  4. Tusk Trust
    tusk-logo-without-web.jpegTusk Trust was formed in 1990 and supports more than 60 field projects in 19 African countries. Tusk Trust also has a Royal Patron in HRH Prince William who supports the mission and values of Tusk Trust. This charity is currently involved with 46 different projects such as the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project and the Mali Elephant Project.
  5. Visit the shop or click here to make a donation.
  6. Panthera
    panthera_logoThis foundation is devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 40 wild cat species. Their current projects include: Tigers Forever, Project Leonardo, Jaguar Corridor Initiative, Snow Leopard Program, Project Pardus, Puma Program and the Cheetah Program.
  7. You can donate to Panthera here.
  8. Born Free Foundation
    af257e01-857d-4e7d-ad45-bab502f57dd2The Born Free Foundation was founded in 1984 and aims for the protection of many species. Their mission statement is ‘Keep wildlife in the wild’ and their vision is to make sure all animals, whether free or captive, are treated with compassion and respect.
  9. Visit the shop or click here to make a donation.
  10. Worldwide Veterinary Service
    UnknownWVS was founded in 2003 with the aim to treat animals in places where no one else can. In an average year the WVS will treat over 150k animals worldwide, deploy over 100 teams, support over 250 charities and also train over 500 vets.
  11. You can visit the store or you can donate to WVS here.

All of these charities do some amazing work and all of them need donations or volunteers, so if you could share this post to get their work spread further among the wildlife community to ensure they are all getting the support they need.