By Lucy Laing
Desperately injured: The young male lion cub was spotted in Mikumi National Park in Tanzania with a poacher's snare twisted cruelly round his neck
It is a heartrending sight.
Wire snare caught so tightly around his neck he cannot eat, this young male lion is doomed to die a slow and agonising death.
Within a matter of days he will be lying in the African bush gasping his last breath.
Nor is he alone in his grim fate. The sight is increasingly common in parts of the continent when a growing number of lions have fallen victim to poaching.
Some wander by mistake into snares that are meant for other animals such as antelope which are hunted by poachers for bushmeat.
Doomed to die: The wire was twisted so tight that the lion was unable to eat
Others, whoever, are being deliberately poached for their body parts.
There is now a growing demand for lion claws and bones in parts of the Far East for use in traditional medicines.
The huge animals are hunted more and more as a substitute for tigers, whose body parts have traditionally been used for the Chinese medicine market.
Tigers are now so scarce in the wild that poachers have turned to a another target.
A sharp increase in the lion bone trade suggests that these are being swapped for tiger bones. Pelts and claws are also being used.
Dr Pieter Kat, from LionAid, said: 'There has been a huge jump recently in the value of lion bones driven by the traditional medicine market, seeing as we have so few tigers.
'Since tiger bones are now so difficult to obtain there has been a switch to lion bones.'
In the 1990s, 1kg of lion bones were worth just $10, but now that has massively increased to $300 in 2010.
And its reflected in the figures that show the populations of lions are on a serious decline. There were an estimated 200,000 lions in Africa in the sixties. This has dropped massively now to just 23,000- 25,000.
Weak: The animal was so sick it struggled to raise its head as park wardens approached
Lucrative: Many of the snares are set by poachers who then butcher the animals for their parts which are used in traditional Chinese medicine
A source said: 'Only a few weeks ago we saw this lion with a snare around its neck in Mikumi National Park in Tanzania.
'The park rangers tried to track it with the intention of trying to remove the snare from around its neck, but by the time they arrived at the location, the lion had disappeared into the bush.
'It wouldn’t have survived for many more days. Already the wound was gaping, open to infection and covered in flies.
'And it was so tight around its neck that it would have found it impossible to eat. It would have either died from infection or starvation.'
Just several days before that, two lions were found dead in Mikumi National Park, in Northern Tanzania, with their claws removed.
Tanzanian National Park Authorities have anti-poaching patrols, but with 25 per cent of Tanzania’s land set aside for conservation purposes, the area is a large area to police.
There are projects such as the SANA Project in Tanzania, set up by the Saadani Safari Lodge, to allow poorer communities to develop whilst protecting the national park areas.
It is hoped that projects such as these will help protect and preserve the wildlife for the future.
The final journey: The lion slopes off into the long grass of the park where he would soon die either of starvation or infection
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Agonising death of the King of the Jungle: Young lion doomed to starve after poacher's snare got caught so tightly round his neck he couldn't eat
By Lucy Laing