In September 2015, Makali, our four year old female African white lion gave birth to four cubs. The cubs appear to be healthy and thriving, while the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Care staff will conitnue to monitor them.
The African lions’ current range extends from south of the Sahara Desert to South Africa, at altitudes ranging from sea level to as high as 4,998 meters (16,400 ft). Their habitat varies from the grasslands of east Africa to the sands of the Kalahari Desert. Lions are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. There has been up to a 30% to 50% decline of wild lion populations over the past two decades and this decline will continue if conservation efforts are not put in place.
They may be the King of the Beasts, but they are in great danger from their main enemy: humans. Lions are losing ground to people in Africa. With less and less land and prey available to them, they sometimes resort to killing livestock. To protect their livestock, farmers shoot and poison the lions. Disease, such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), bovine tuberculosis and canine distemper, spread by domestic animals, is also having a negative effect on wild lion populations.
Regional conservation strategies have been developed for lions in west and central Africa and eastern and southern Africa. These strategies include reducing lion-human conflict, and to conserve and increase lion habitat and wild prey base. One of the Toronto Zoo’s mandates is to educate visitors on current conservation issues and help preserve the incredible biodiversity on the planet. The Toronto Zoo is in a great position to bring forward the plight of the African lion and with your help we can continue to support lion conservation efforts in the wild through the Toronto Zoo Endangered Species Reserve Fund.