Lionaid

An iconic species faces extinction in our lifetime.

In the 1960’s there were over 200,000 lions in the wild; today there are barely 20,000 still remaining. This is a staggering 90% decline in just 50 years. Those few lions left are largely scattered as small remnant populations across the continent.

A recent analysis indicates that there might now be only five locations where lions occur in sufficient numbers to be considered long-term viable. LION AID is a new charity and its mission is to highlight the plight of the lions and to fund effective programmes to reverse this drastic decline.

In 2010 Lionaid initiated a campaign called “Where Have all the Lions Gone?” which began on the 1st March in Glasgow and covered11 UK cities. The message of the campaign is quite simple. Lose lions in the wild, and lose them at home. Extinction on the African plains means loss of icons and symbols in every-day use.

In each city Lionaid temporarily and symbolically shrouded one or more prominent lion statues with a black cloth bearing the campaign logo to bring the message home. Pollyanna joined the Mayor of Nottingham, and two representatives from the Charity - Dr Peter Kat (top right) and Chris McSween (top far right) to take part in this very unusual ceremony.

Crowds of people gathered to watch as the Lion statues in front of the city hall were covered in black shrouds, vanishing from view. Pollyanna commented “As we finished covering the lions, the church bells sounded the hour – the impression was of a death knell ringing for the lions of Africa. I found the shrouding unexpectedly moving and emotional to take part in. I have been fortunate to sketch and paint wild lions in Africa, and the idea these magnificent cats could vanish almost unnoticed is horrifying.”

The main reasons for the decline of lions in Africa arise from conflict with expanding human and livestock populations, decrease of habitat and prey, infection with diseases carried by domestic animals, trophy hunting, and protected area infrastructure affected by civil strife. LIONAID aims to fund four practical programmes, assisted scientifically and practically by a diversity of UK and international collaborators.

Pollyanna also donated two limited edition prints to be auctioned to raise funds for the charity (Top picture) – please check their web site www.lionaid.org for further details.