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Lion conservation aims to preserve the few lions remaining in their natural habitats. This is largely achieved through cutting down on hunting and keeping their natural habitats safe. The number of lions living in the wild has decreased dramatically due to a variety of factors. Some estimate that, as of 2011, the lion population has dropped below 30,000.
There are two types of lions alive today, the African and the Asian lion. African lions are now limited to the sub Saharan region of the continent, but they used to span the entire continent. Asian lions are much more rare, and only found in one forest in India, where they are protected. Asian lions can grow to heavier weights than African lions.
One way lion conservation works is by educating the local people about the importance of lions, which can decrease killings for food or sport. Some funds even improve villages by providing schools, better access to food, and health care. Some lions are part of national parks or nature reserves, where they can be better protected.
Lions are frequently poisoned by farmers after they kill livestock. A lion will typically kill an animal and then come back later to eat it, after the farmer has had an opportunity to sprinkle some poison on the body. Carrion birds also may die in this manner. Lion conservation projects are trying to get the sale of such pesticides banned.
Also important for lion conservation is the study of their ecology. Scientists track the movement of lions as well as their diet and behavior. Special collars are put onto some lions to help track them. Tracking can help researchers learn the areas that each group of lions frequents, and how many lions each pride has at any given time. This can also help farmers and herders learn how to better protect their livestock form predators, to cut down on retaliatory killings.
Any time a collared lion dies, the researchers can track it own to find out the cause of death. Knowing what most often kills the lions can help lion conservation workers prevent similar deaths in the future. Also, some lions are more likely to kill livestock. If these individuals can be identified, measures can be taken to prevent more livestock predation.
Another aspect of lion conservation includes compensating the local people. If they get money for living peacefully with the lions they will be less likely to kill them.The local people can also go to school to learn to be guides for tourists and to learn conservation techniques for all local animals.