Friday, September 24, 2021

World Lion Day: reiterating the imminent role of Lions in sustaining ecosystems

World Lion Day is celebrated annually throughout the world on*August 10* as a day to commemorate the ‘king of the jungle’ and raise awareness about the need for its conservation.

Lions have been at the heart of human fascination from time immemorial, beyond national borders and across cultures. From guarding temples to adorning national flags, decorating coins to beautifying ancient Indian pillars, Lions have commanded symbolic importance throughout the ages.

Yet, the magnificent beast is on the verge of a silent extinction across the world! In this story, we’ll tell you what caused this stark decrease in its numbers and why it’s highly imperative to save them before it’s too late.

Why it’s celebrated?

World Lion Day operates to serve a greater purpose than to merely commemorate the existence of the ‘king of the jungle in our biodiversity.’

It is celebrated therefore to fulfill three major objectives:

– To raise awareness about the plight of the lion & other issues that the species faces in the wild

– To find ways to protect its natural habitat and for creating more such habitats like national parks

– To educate people who live near wild cats on the dangers and how to protect themselves. Humans and large species like cats can live in harmony together, but only if they understand how to do so.

About Lions:

Scientific name: Lions, one of the largest animal species on earth are scientifically named ‘Panthera Leo’.

Lions are found in certain patches of the world, ranging from 300 to 550 pounds in weight and light buff to deep reddish-brown in color, with the rarest ones found in white.

They have an illustrious place in India’s history and culture, with their earliest known references found in the pillars of the Mauryan empire. The Indian national emblem too is adorned by the majestic lion on all four sides.

Why Lion Conservation is the need of the hour?

Around 3 million years ago, lions roamed nonchalantly across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. However, today they are rarely found in their natural habitats. However, a lot has changed since then with a significant decline in their population. The world has lost around 95% of its lion population in a period of five decades.

Lions are listed as a vulnerable species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Though they are not under the classification of an endangered species, they still face obstacles that endanger their survival.

Currently, there are about 30,000 to 100,000 lions left on earth. In the past few decades, lion populations have decreased almost by half.

Role in the animal kingdom:

Lions hold an indispensable place in the ecosystem, they are an apex predator of their habitat, responsible for checking the population of grazers, thus helping in maintaining the ecological balance.

Lions also contribute to keeping the population of their prey healthy and resilient as they target the weakest members of the herd. Thus, indirectly helping in disease control in the prey population.

Threats faced:

Among the many other threats that face the mighty animal, today, the most prominent of them are:

– Trophy hunting and
– Loss of natural habitat

History:

World Lions Day is celebrated across the world since 2013. The day was co-founded by Dereck and Beverly Joubert of the Big Cat Initiative and National Geographic in a partnership.

Also known as the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, the partnership aims to protect these wild cats in their natural habitat. Furthermore, the initiative also works on safety measures with communities that live near wild cats.

The last few years have seen a steady increase in India’s lion population: PM Modi

PM Narendra Modi extends his wishes to countrymen on World Lion Day; says, it would make you happy to know that the last few years have seen a steady increase in India’s lion population.

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