Monday, July 18, 2011

The End of an Era

In the parched Kunene region of northwest Namibia, the climate seems to dare living creatures to survive in its  unforgiving harsh environment.  Rainfall is scarce (less than a fraction of an inch per year) in the ancient Namib desert. Creatures able to thrive here are certainly deserving of the respect they've rightfully earned - simply for surviving in a place that tests their limits on a daily basis.

A pride of rare desert lions, known as the Hoaruseb Pride, has adapted to this harsh environment over time. However, as with other lions throughout Africa, their numbers have begun to decline at a staggering rate in recent decades. As the desert lions' population decreased, conservationists began to study them in an effort to save this unique species.

A week ago, on July 10, 2011, the last remaining members of the Hoaruseb Pride (three lionesses named Morada, Tawny, and Maya) were killed by strychnine poisoning. During the past year, the entire Hoaruseb Pride has been decimated by humans. The unique desert lions of Namibia are gone.

The pride's rapid decline began in early 2010 when two of its lionesses were found poisoned to death. Throughout the remainder of 2010 and into 2011, poisoning and trophy hunting incidents resulted in the deaths of more members of the pride. Two adult male lions known as Big Boy and Leonardo, popular among conservationists and tourists alike, were shot and killed by trophy hunters months apart. Both were wearing GPS monitoring collars when killed, were well known and recognizable, so it's doubtful the hunting expedition leaders didn't know who these particular lions were and how significant they were.

In April 2010, the pride consisted of six lions: Leonardo (adult male), Morada (adult female), Tawny (adult female), Maya (sub-adult female), and Indigo and Crimson (both sub-adult males). The entire pride - all six lions -are dead from poisoning or trophy hunting. Dr. Phillip Stander of Desert Lion Conservation recently called the deaths of the remaining pride members the "end of an era."

The important question to be considered is whether this is "the end of an era" for the Namibia desert lions? Or "the end of an era" for mankind to care about the animals who share this planet?

Our task must be to free ourselves - by widening our circle of
 compassion to  embrace all living creatures and
the whole of nature and its beauty. 
(Albert Einstein)

(photo credit Desert Lion Conservation)

Big Boy
(Photo credit Chris Wildblood)

Morada and Leonardo
(photo credit Desert Lion Conservation)

Morada and Maya and sub-adult pride males
(photo credit Desert Lion Conservation)

Leonardo, killed by trophy hunters
(photo credit unknown)

Maya, dead from poisoning
(photo credit Desert Lion Conservation)

Morada, Maya and Tawny dead from poisoning
(photo credit Desert Lion Conservation)

Animals Matter.

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