A study in the scientific journal PLOS One was released a few days ago, suggesting the West African lion population is closer to extinction than previously thought.
Due to factors like disappearing habitat and big game hunting, there could already be as few as 250 adults in the wild.
If something is not done, and done quickly, we could lose this magnificent species once and for all.
Although the South African lion is considered a different “clade” than the West African lion, they too are nearing extinction, with only approximately 35,000 left in the wild, for many of the same reasons: loss of habitat and the consequent reproductive challenges, hunting and poaching.
Seeing all these gloomy statistics can make us feeling hopeless about how to affect positive change, but there are people out there doing whatever they can.
One of those people is South African zoologist and conservationist Kevin Richardson.
Known as the Lion Whisperer, he has been acknowledged into both a pride of lions and a pack of hyenas. While his methods are unorthodox to say the least (knowing the lions since they were cubs, he is able to lie down with them) these videos showing his relationship with the lions is truly breathtaking.
The videos witness a remarkable intimacy between human and cat—it’s unexpected to watch them ask for belly rubs and massages. It’s apparent that the lions adore Richardson and vice-versa.
He owns a lion sanctuary and is making it his life’s work to bring awareness to the issue of big cat extinction and to help deconstruct myths about big cats.
As he explains in the longer video, we can go a long way to bring lions back from extinction by supporting habitat restoration efforts, among many other things.
The whole thing is just incredibly moving.
Watch a short clip: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8JRKRCS3Wc[/youtube]
Watch the longer video:
For more information on Kevin Richardson visit his Facebook page.
References: Tia Ghose, News Discovery
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