Zambia's Declining Lion Prides Could Be Coming Back

Jun 20, 2023

Lions and leopards in Kafue National Park seem to be making a slight comeback. This is after decades of poaching. The comeback is thanks to stronger protection rules and new technology.     

The park is in Zambia. It is Africa’s third-largest national park. Big cats had been hunted there for a long time. This greatly brought down the number of lions.   

Kim Young-Overton is the director of a program that works to protect the animals. She told Reuters that they are seeing positive signs. They're seeing the animals' populations start to go up in "areas where we have been investing in protection support."  

Panthera is a global organization that runs the program. It found that the numbers of lions and leopards stayed steady from 2018 to 2022. In some cases, the numbers went up a small amount. Scientists found more cub births into Kafue prides. Females appeared to be living longer, said Andrew Loveridge. He explained that this allows them to give birth to more cubs. He’s Panthera’s lion program director.      

Poachers have hunted leopards for their colorful skins. Meanwhile, other poachers have gone after smaller, grass-eating animals in the area. Kafue’s roughly 200 lions prey upon these smaller animals for food. When poaches get them, it causes the lions to go hungry. Farmers have also killed lions believed to prey upon their livestock. In some cases, they’ve poisoned the cats.    

Many anti-poaching teams have been formed to protect the lions. Wildlife officials have also used new technology to find poachers and poisoned lions. One way they've done so is by attaching satellite trackers to vultures. This helps to quickly find and rescue poisoned cats.  

Photo by Jeff Lemond courtesy of Unsplash.

Reflect:  Do you think it is important to protect and conserve big cat populations? Explain.

The purpose of the introductory paragraph is to _______. (Common Core RI.5.5; RI.6.5)
a. provide statistics about poaching in Kafue National Park
b. highlight the slight comeback of lion and leopard populations in Kafue National Park and what caused them to drop in the first place
c. explain the role of conservation organizations in protecting wildlife
d. describe the new protection measures and technology on combating poaching in Kafue National Park
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