10 June 2019
This book was first published in 2018, has 285 pages, 8 chapters, 14 B/W and colour photos but no maps. The book is dedicated to author's (Sara Evans) father (David). 100 years ago, there were 200,000 wild lions living in Africa. Today, their numbers have dropped by 90% and humans are responsible for their decline. Evans looks at rise and fall of the lion and what is been done to stem this collapse. She meets the lion champions in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. She saw her 1st wild lion in Madikwe GR in South Africa on a morning game drive. Steppe lions were painted in Chauvet Cave, France, 36,000 years ago, discovered on 18.12.1994. To protect this cave, it is now sealed and a duplicate cave and drawings are created for the public. Many more lion bones have been found around the world, including one adult and 2 cubs in Siberia. The oldest specimen of Eurasian ancestral cave lion, is a jaw bone 700,000 years old, about 25% larger than todays African lion. The oldest East African lions were 3.5 million years old.
At one time, Africa roared with lions. Most of the World no longer hears them roar and they have disappeared. Even in Africa, they are on the edge of extinction (lest than 20,000). And about 500 in India (GIR NP). Most of the European and American lions disappeared between 15,000 to 12,000 years ago. Only 67 areas in Africa have land for lions. West and Central Africa have the least (living Dead). Tanzania has 40% of Africa's lions, in protected areas. Lions living outside protected areas are likely to disappear. Barbary lions are now only found in Zoos. South Africa is the best place to be a lion and also for rare white lions. Romans started capturing lions as far back as 264 BC. Many were killed in hunting shows or arenas. Mughal Emperors of India did the same hunting of lions and recorded this in their journals, one would think that people hated lions. Any remaining lions were decimated by the British. Similarly, the Dutch and the British killed off most lions in South Africa in the 1600s, and the French did the same in North Africa. In East Africa, in early 1900s, lions were shot by farmers, professional hunters and safari sportsmen. Today, the real African landscape barely exist. Today the villagers living near protected areas poison the lions, even though killing of lions is illegal. More lions are killed off by trophy hunters and poachers, viral and TB diseases and inbreeding in fenced areas.
In Gir forest, India, Asiatic lion numbers have increased with help from local people. Translocation of Gir lions in the past has been a failure. In Amboseli NP, Kenya, Maasai warriors are becoming guardians of the lions to protect them. Lion proof Bomas protect the cattle. Similar programmes are now introduced in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. 'Living Walls', Bomas made of Myrrh trees also protect life stock from lions and hyenas. Snares are also removed to protect wildlife. In Nairobi NP, 'lion lights' keep the lions away. Compensation schemes prevents lions being killed. New schemes make payments for number of predators 'alive' in the communities. Lions numbers in southern Africa have increased by 12%. Some places because of 'fencing in'. Australia and France have banned lion parts to be imported and USA made it harder to import them. 41 airlines agreed to stop carrying 'Big Five Trophies'.
Some other books of interest are:-
(1) The Book of the Lion, Pease, 1914 (1986) 2018
(2) Serengeti Lion, Schaller, 1972
(3) Simba, Guggisberg, 1973
(4) Pride of Lions, Bertram, 1978
(5) Lions Share, Bygott, 1983
(6) Big Cats, Mills, 1998
(7) The Last Lions, Joubert, 2006
(8) Part of the Pride, Richardson, 2009 (2016)
(9) White Lion, Schofield, 2013
(10)Lions in the Balance, Packer, 2015
Having born in Kenya, I enjoyed reading this book.