Don’t let the challenges of isolation distance you from nature. The wonderful work of wildlife guardians, photographers and filmmakers including our friends, Jonathan and Angela Scott and Dereck and Beverly Joubert can bring the wildest of places into our homes and hearts.

For lions, this is a powerful motivator for transforming audiences into advocates.

Travel and live encounters, though shelved for 2020, are still possible online. Now is a great time to explore nature virtually and rekindle your interest in the wild.

Celebrating all things lion, BEJournal has pulled together some fun facts about the big cat, a list of great conservation foundations working to strengthen wild populations, and a special collection of images by photographer Kristian Sekulic capturing all the charm and power of these majestic animals.

The Mother. Photo by Kristian Sekulic / iStock (skynesher).

Did you know….

Lions are some of the heaviest animals on the planet—though not the heaviest big cat, this distinction goes to the tiger. A lioness can weigh around 290lbs or 130kg when fully grown, while males average 400lbs or 180kg. The heaviest lion on record tipped the scales at 826lbs or 375kg!

While most cats have slit pupils, lions have round ones which help them hunt better at night.

Females do the lion’s share. They do the hunting and foraging, while males keep guard and protect the pride.

The Huntress. Photo by Kristian Sekulic / iStock (skynesher).

Female lions bond for life. Lioness cubs that grow up together are likely to still be friends later in life, also true of mother and daughter.

The Sisterhood. Photo by Kristian Sekulic / iStock (skynesher).

Lions don’t just roar. Like domesticated cats they also hiss when angry and even meow for attention—though you are more likely to hear their roar, which resonates up to 5 miles.

The Brave One. Photo by Kristian Sekulic / iStock (skynesher).

A lion’s mane is unique to the species and can help estimate its age. Older male lions have darker manes than their younger counterparts.

How many types of lion can you name?  Most people don’t realize there are around eight subspecies in total. These include Asiatic lions, Masai lions, Ethiopian and Congo varieties.

The Prodigy. Photo by Kristian Sekulic / iStock (skynesher).

Not only can lions run fast, they can also leap far, the average up to 36 feet.

The Sentinel. Photo by Kristian Sekulic / iStock (skynesher).

We mostly find lions in Africa, however these big cats were once native to Europe and India, where a small population (<300) still roam the Gir Forest.

Just over a century ago, there were over 200,000 wild lions living in Africa. Today, there are only about 20,000; lions are extinct in 26 African countries and have vanished from over 95 percent of their historic range. 

Lions are part of the IUCN Red List, which documents all animals considered under threat from extinction.

Lions are a vulnerable species, but there is some good news. Conservation groups around the world are working hard to rebuild wild populations and safeguard the big cat from extinction. You can play a vital role in their efforts by helping to educate and encourage interest in lions and their preservation. Donating makes a difference, but inspiring curiosity and compassion for wildlife also has great value.

People will support something they care about, so lets inspire people to care about lions.

The Father. Photo by Kristian Sekulic / iStock (skynesher).

Great Conservation Foundations to Explore, Support and Share!

Through Project Leonardo, Panthera aims to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 individuals by 2030 by protecting and connecting key lion populations throughout their range in Africa. Lions are being secured by collaborating with local governments, communities and NGOs. Panthera works primarily to secure lions in key sites and limit trade in their prey and body parts, mitigating the risk of lions to livestock owners and influencing policy around the decision making and benefits to local peoples.

Lion Guardians is a conservation organization dedicated to finding and enacting long-term solutions for people and lions to coexist. Founded in 2007, Lion Guardians began with five Guardians in one small area within the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem. There are Lion Guardians-based projects successfully running in several countries and in our core area of Amboseli, our operations span over close to a million acres. They commit to workable, scientifically driven and transferable solutions.

Kenya Wildlife Trust Mara Predator Conservation Programme understand critical conservation needs across the country and can create tangible, strategic links between wildlife research, monitoring and conservation efforts. Through their grant-making portfolio, the Trust funds projects across three of Kenya’s most important ecosystems, the Greater Mara, Laikipia/Samburu and Amboseli/Tsavo.

Saving The Lion Foundation is a registered charity based in Australia focusing on the conservation of lion populations across Africa and Asia.

LionAid is the only international organization specifically dedicated to lion conservation. Working globally to end the decline of wild lion populations, conducting world leading research into lion conservation and engage directly with politicians and decision makers in the UK, Europe, Africa and Internationally. This includes highlighting the true plight of lion populations, canned/captive hunting and the trophy hunting trade. The only sustainable solutions involve all stake-holders, which is why LionAid are working directly with tribes-people and their leaders in Africa to put in place sustainable and effective programs to help save lions.

Protecting African Lions (P.A.L) is a non- profit organisation whose mission is to get protection status for the African Lion. They raise awareness through developing working relationships of mutual support with other organisations who share their goals. The iconic P.A.L bracelet, which symbolizes co-existence, attracts donations and sponsorship to protect wild lions from further decline. The primary focus is to generate sustainable income for the fundamental programs that need to execute the right goals for the wild lion populations. P.A.L has become a strategic partner for governmental and other affiliated NPO programs. The bracelet provides a symbolic connection with the courage, spirit and power of a lion, whilst raising funds for their protection.

African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) collaborates with communities and policymakers, with non-governmental organizations, researchers and business leaders, to implement locally conceived and relevant solutions that aim to create sustainable motivation in these stakeholder groups to conserve lions. The ALERT Internship Program has been created to provide current students, graduates and skilled individuals with unrivalled opportunities to experience the complexities and challenges involved in working for a non-governmental organisation in Africa. The Program has been designed to incorporate individuals from all walks of life.  Whether you are a graduate looking to gain behind-the-scenes experience in conservation fieldwork; a teacher seeking an opportunity to use your skills to help under-privileged children or a vet nurse who wants a chance to work with some of Africa’s iconic wildlife, then ALERT can give you the chance to fulfil your dreams of working in Africa. Something to consider once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

African Wildlife Foundation work with local communities to help them realize the big cat’s value and to help them protect their families and livestock from carnivore predation. In Ruaha National Park, where 10 percent of the world’s remaining lion population can be found, AWF’s Ruaha Carnivore Project is fostering a much-needed shift in the local opinion of carnivores. In addition, Ruaha Carnivore Project provides community benefits to villages that demonstrate success in living peacefully with carnivores. AWF’s Large Carnivore Research Project aims to ensure the continued survival of large predators living around Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

World Lion Day promotes the collective efforts of charities and foundations that instill awareness of the great need for conservation efforts and sustainable solutions to strengthen wild lion populations. With a primary goal of raising awareness, #WorldLionDay provide links and graphical banners empowering people to make a unified roar… in support of the big cat!

The Lovers. Photo by Kristian Sekulic / iStock (skynesher).

BEJournal is grateful to @kristiansekulic for contibuting the images for this story—beautifully capturing the diverse nature of lions. Deep appreciation to the conservation groups listed above, and all charities who are working to create a future for these big cats. Our last thanks goes to everyone who took the time to read this story, we hope you have learned something new about lions and discovered how valuable your voice is to their survival. If you have enjoyed this story, please share it and your love for lions with a roar!

Explorer and media producer, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide resources and opportunities for creative exploration.