Poaching now threatens lions in Africa.
It is new and it raises the fear that lions could be extinct by 2050.
The poachers are killing the lions with poison.
After the kill, the poachers hack off the paws and faces of the lions.
The lions are being killed for their teeth and claws.
They are used for traditional medicines, jewelry, trinkets and wine.
In the case of wine and traditional medicines the body parts are ground up and added to the wine or medicines.
The belief is that these potions increase virility.
The demand for these body parts are driven by demand from Southeast Asia and China.
In Beijing markets the body parts of lions are openly sold in outdoor markets.
And believe it or not – the government of South Africa is meeting the demand for lion body parts.
Poachers are turning to lions because tigers are becoming rarer.
And this new threat poses further dangers to lions.
Already they are suffering tremendously from loss of their habitat.
The situation has reached the point where there are fewer lions than elephants.
A 100 years ago the lion population totalled about 200,000.
Today it is estimated at less than 23,000.
For conservationists the lion poaching problem is especially worrisome.
It is much easier to poach lions than elephants or rhinos.
Lions are scavengers.
All the poachers need to do is snare an antelope and poison the carcass with poison and wait.
“It happened really fast in Mozambique, and it could happen really fast in the rest of Africa,” Kris Everatt says.
Poaching Now Threatens Lions
He is from the global wild cat conservation group Panthera.
“Lion poaching has already been reported from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
“You could end up with the only place left with wild lions in Africa being Kruger national park,”
The park is a well-protected refuge in South Africa.
But lions are not the only animals facing extinction.
The statistics tell the story.
The black rhino population is down by 97.6 per cent since 1960.
The African elephant is at risk of extinction in 10 years.
And there are less than 900 mountain gorillas left.