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.

The following are suggested as being specific threats to lion populations within Tanzania.

Direct threats:
Killing of lions:
Retaliatory killing in response to livestock predation
Cultural killing in ritual lion hunts
Poaching for commercial purposes, or caught in snares intended for ungulates
Problem animal control
Trophy hunting
Lion pathology: Tanzanian lions are exposed to a variety of pathogens, canine distemper virus being one of the most threatening

Indirect threats:
Population growth and associated habitat loss through the expansion of agricultural and livestock farming
Tolerance of communities towards lion conservation; lions are often viewed by rural communities as pests or vermin
Drought impacting lions’ diet and community tolerance of lions through increased conflicts
Decrease in wild prey availability

Mésochina P, Mbangwa O, CHardonnet P, Mosha R, Muti B, Drouet N, Crosmary W, Kissui B (2010) Conservation status of the lion (Panthera leo Linnaeus, 1758) in Tanzania. Paris: SCI Foundation, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism – Wildlife Department, TAWISA, IGF Foundation (pdf)

Trade in Lions

Within Tanzania, hunting areas in the Selous Game Reserve with the highest lion off-take showed the steepest declines between 1996 and 2008, as did hunting regions outside of the Selous with the highest off-take.  Across all of Tanzania, off-take has declined by 50 percent over the past 13 years despite increasing demand and hunting effort (Packer et al., 2009). This declining off-take cannot be attributed to habitat loss or to human-lion conflict. Instead the data strongly suggests that lion populations in the hunting areas declined as a direct consequence of overhunting (Packer et al., 2011).

Number of wild source lions estimated in international trade, 1999-2008:  2186
Average annual wild source trade as percent of population size*:  2%
* Used average of Chardonnet (2002) and Bauer & van der Merwe (2004) studies

“Between 1999 and 2008, Tanzania exported 4,926 lions and lion parts. This included 2,083 trophies, one live animal, and 102 skins, representing a minimum of 2,186 lions.  In contrast to South Africa, virtually none of the specimens exported by Tanzania were from a captive-bred source (the exception being one trophy imported by the U.S. in 2000). The only other source of specimens in trade was “illegal” and these were very few. Tanzania did not export lions for breeding, circus, education, enforcement, medical, reintroduction, or zoo purposes. Tanzania exported very few lions or their parts for commercial purposes.

Setting aside scientific specimens from wild source lions, virtually all of the lion specimens exported from Tanzania were for hunting trophy purposes. Unlike South Africa, only four of the exported trophies originated in another country (all from South Africa). At least 2,131 wild lions were killed in Tanzania over the past decade for the international trade in hunting trophies (adding “trophies” (2,015) and “skins” (87) and subtracting the four imported trophies). An additional 67 items were exported for personal purposes, representing 62 wild lions. Most wild source lion skins exported from Tanzania for hunting trophy purposes went to South Africa (44) and Germany (29). The U.S. is the largest importer of wild source hunting trophies exported from Tanzania, with 47 percent (956); other major importers were France (283), Spain (212), Mexico (122) and South Africa (109).

Thus, it is of concern that 2,186 wild source lions were exported from the Tanzania during the decade; this is 20 percent of the population (2,186 of 10,753). Annualized, these exports represent 2 percent of the population.  Lion off-take for trophy hunting in Tanzania is considered to be unsustainable. In trophy hunting areas the primary cause of declines in lion populations is trophy hunting (Packer et al., 2011).

Packer et al. (2009) identified Tanzania as one of the countries where trophy hunting is likely to have contributed to the decline in lion populations in the 1980s and 1990s. The U.S. is by far the largest importer of hunting trophies from Tanzania.”

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)

Packer C, Kosmala M, Cooley HS, Brink H, Pintea L, Garshelis D, Purchase G, Strauss M, Swanson A, Blame G, Hunter L, Nowell K (2009) Sport hunting, predator control and conservation of large carnivores. PLoS ONE 4(6): e5941. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005941 (pdf).

Packer C, Brink H, Kissui BM, Maliti H, Kushnir H, Caro T (2011). Effects of trophy hunting on lion and leopard populations in Tanzania. Conservation Biology, 25(1). (pdf – purchase required)

Lions in Culture

The Maasai engage in Ala-mayo, the hunting of lion as an expression of bravery in a rite of passage to adulthood. (Spencer, 1988).  When large maned lions are killed the mane is used at ceremonies or hung on the village flag pole.  The tail and paws are often retained for ceremonial purposes before being discarded.  Other tribes also engage in ritual killings, about which less is known, such as the Sukuma and Datoga peoples.

Spencer P (1988) The Maasai of Matapato: a study of rituals of rebellion.  International African Library.  Manchester University Press. (book – purchase required)

Governing Body

Tanzania Wildlife Department
A department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism
P0 Box 9372
Dar es Salaam

Tanzania National Parks
P.O Box 3134
Arusha, Tanzania

The Wildlife Division has the following functions and Mandates:
- Administration and regulation of wildlife and wetlands laws.
-  Formulation of sound Policy, strategies and programmes for policy implementation.
-  Issue and administer all types of wildlife resources user rights and trading licenses.
- Administer management plans for Wildlife PAs and Ramsar sites.
- Coordinate and monitor policy implementation and give due recognition to operations of other sectors policies.
- Promotion of participation of stakeholders in conservation and sustainable utilization of wildlife and wetland resources.
- Promotion of wildlife and wetlands resources for economic development, and Promotion of information sharing and exchange of expertise nationally, regionally and internationally.
- Provide technical know how to stakeholders Provide professional standards in conservation.

Administratively the wildlife sector has divided its mandates into Central and Local Governments. The Central Government includes ministries, executive agencies, NCAA, TANAPA parastatal organization and independent departments, while the Local Government includes District Councils, Wards and Village Councils. The role of Central Governments is to provide clear national policy and regulatory framework stimulate and promote participation of various stakeholders in the implementation of policy, manage core wildlife protected areas and providing professional standards and technical assistance in conservation and utilization of resources.

At independence 1961, Tanzania showed her commitment to wildlife conservation when the first president, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere released a statement, the famous “Arusha Manifesto” as quoted here under:-

The survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to all of us in Africa. These wild creatures amid the wild places they inhabit are not only important as a resource of wonder and inspiration but are an integral part of our natural resources and our future livelihood and well being.In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children's grand-children will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance.

The conservation of wildlife and wild places calls for specialist knowledge, trained manpower, and money, and we look to other nations to co-operate with us in this important task the success or failure of which not only affects the continent of Africa but the rest of the world as well.”

Proceedings of the first Tanzania Lion & Leopard Conservation Action Plan Workshop: 20 – 22 February 2006 (pdf)

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