Principle Threats

Pressures on land use from increasing human populations leading to continued fragmentation of the remaining suitable habitat coupled with indiscriminate killing in defence of life and livestock and prey base depletion are recognized as being the principle causes for their decline.

Chardonnet et al. (2009) report the following threats to lions in Mozambique:


Lions are susceptible to poaching either for bushmeat, or as an unintentional consequence of snaring and trapping.  When asked, Mozambicans believed this to be the biggest threat to the lion population in the country.

Human-Lion conflict/Problem Animal Control (PAC) Operations.

Lions are held responsible for many livestock losses and human killings. Along with southern Tanzania, northern Mozambique has the highest rate of human killings by lions in Africa.  A national survey in 2008 showed that human-lion conflict had occurred in 18 of 69 lion range districts.  Chardonnet et al (2010) report that Cabo Delgado had the biggest problem with human killings, as 48 people died between 1997 and 2004.  A local rebellion broke out as a consequence.  Lions have killed 34 people over a period of 10 years in the Niassa National Reserve, and there have been at least 73 lion attacks since 1974.  Moreover, just in the last 6 years, it was reported that 11 people were killed by lions in this reserve, and 17 people injured.  Lion attacks which occurred in the 1980s were probably under-reported owing to beliefs that these were a result of witchcraft.  In the areas where these occur, lions are persecuted.  Lions are killed as a consequence of subsequent PAC operations.


Adult male lions are lost to tourism hunting yearly.  However Chardonnet et al (2009) report that “The national lion offtake is surprisingly low 17% in 2007 and 12.6% in 2008).”

Mozambicans hunt lions for recreational purposes or food.  There is little evidence of trophy hunting amongst the resident population.  Chardonnet et al. (2009) state that, “From 2007 to 2008 no lion hunting licence was issued for national hunters to hunt in the Multiple Use Areas which are reserved to Mozambicans only. “


The Niassa lion population is FIV positive. 

Bovine tuberculosis is also a concern for lion populations in Limpopo National Park and surrounding areas.  Lions can be contaminated from domestic animals.  Poachers’ dogs also pose a threat of canine distemper and rabies. 

Other Threats

Mozambicans reported further threats to lions: loss of habitat, inefficient management, uncontrolled fire, lack of prey and human settlement.

Chardonnet  P, Mésochina P, Renaud P-C, Bento C, Conjo D, Fusari A, Begg C,  Foloma M, Pariela F (2009) Conservation status of the lion (Panthera leo Linnaeus, 1758) in Mozambique.  DNAC/MITUR & DNTF/MINAG, Maputo, June 2009 (pdf)

Trade in Lions

Number of wild source lions estimated in international trade, 1999-2008:       206
Average annual wild source trade as percent of population size*:                       3%
* Used average of Chardonnet (2002) and Bauer & van der Merwe (2004) studies

“Between 1999 and 2008, Mozambique exported 953 lion specimens including teeth (697), trophies (162), skulls (46) and skins (44).  None of the exported specimens originated in another country. Thus, this represents at least 206 lions (adding trophies and skins).  Trends in the data include: the export of skins, skulls and teeth dropped off or ended after 2001 and now the principal export is trophies which numbered, on average, 18 in the past five years.  All specimens exported from Mozambique were of wild source and for personal or hunting trophy purposes only. Most trophies were exported to South Africa (47), the U.S. (41) or Spain (41).  Very few lion specimens were traded for personal purposes, although 231 teeth were imported to the U.S. in 1999. Thus, it is of concern that 206 wild source lions were exported from Mozambique during the decade; this is 30 percent of the population (206 of 678). Annualized, these exports represent 3 percent of the population.  A more recent population estimate speculates that there are a greater number of lions in Mozambique than previously thought (Chardonnet et al., 2009).”

Place J, Flocken J, Travers W, Waterland S, Telecky T, Kennedy C, Goyenechea A (2011) Petition to list the African Lion (Panthera leo leo) as endangered pursuant to the US Endangered Species Act.  The International Fund for Animal Welfare, The Born Free Foundation, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, Defenders of Wildlife (pdf)

Lions in Culture

The lion and hare feature in traditional Mozambican children’s stories.  In these stories the hare usually outwits the lion.  One such story tells of a hare that is accused of murdering the lion’s cubs.  The lion chases the hare.  Feeling tired, the hare finds a leaning rock to hide under.  Forced to hold the rock up so it doesn’t crush him, lion follows him under it.  Hare tells the lion to take over holding the stone so it doesn’t fall and crush them both.  As lion takes hold of the stone, hare runs away.  The lion remains under the stone for many days until he is tired and hungry.  He eventually lets go of the rock and it doesn’t fall on him.  The lion returns home and resumes his chase of hare when he has regained his strength.   (html)

A prominent landmark in the capital of Mozambique, Maputo, is The Lion That Laughs, designed by Pancho Guedes

Governing Body

Ministry of Coordination of Environmental Affairs (MICOA)
Rua Kassoende 167

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