There is nothing that stirs both fear and awe in us quite like the thought of coming face to face with the king of the jungle – the African Lion. This majestic creature is now well set in popular culture with Hollywood films like the Lion King and the Chronicles of Narnia. Lions have also been part of old classics such as Born Free, The Last Lions, Ghost and the Darkness amongst many others.
But what most of us don’t know is that this king of beasts now comes under the ‘vulnerable species’ category, due to habitat loss, poaching, human-wildlife conflict etc. Despite having no natural predators, the lion numbers have plummeted by as much as 40% over the last 4-5 decades. Now there are just over 20,000 of them left in the wild in Africa.
So when tourists visit the national parks in the various countries of Africa, their dollars are a big incentive for locals to safeguard and preserve these animals – both from conflict within their communities and from those people dealing in illegal wildlife trade.
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Some of the best African national parks to go to and see the Lion King are the Masai Mara & Tsavo in Kenya, Serengeti & Ngorongoro in Tanzania, Queen Elizabeth in Uganda, Hwange in Zimbabwe, South Luangwa in Zambia, Okavango Delta & Chobe in Botswana, Etosha in Namibia and Kruger & Sabi Sands in South Africa. The lion belt basically stretches from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in East Africa to Zambia and Zimbabwe in South-East and finally to Namibia, Botswana and South Africa in the far south of the continent.
It was World Lion Day recently on 10th August, and for good reason too. The image of lions is what first comes to mind for most of us when we think of an epic jungle adventure. So make sure you both live that adventure in your lifetime and contribute to preserve these animals for the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren.
Here are some photographs of the Lion King that should fire your imagination to be in the wild.