04 May

'Let Lions Live' Campaign Update: A Message from Dr. Luke Hunter

Luke Hunter

Dear Panthera Supporters,

I am excited to share with you that since my first letter sent last week to launch Panthera's Let Lions Live campaign we have reached an impressive 41% of our $30,000 goal, which we are hoping to raise by May 27th. Each dollar of this goal is being matched by a generous donor and represents one of the remaining wild lions in Africa.

As you may now know, lions are in trouble. This reality contradicts the popular vision of lions in great numbers, sprawled under the shade of every acacia tree dotted across the African plains. The truth is lions are relentlessly persecuted across Africa - hunted, speared, and even poisoned by people, causing their numbers to have plummeted from hundreds of thousands just a century ago, to fewer than 30,000 today.

I am fortunate to have spent years studying and working to conserve these magnificent cats, having witnessed the unbreakable, life-long bond between related lionesses; females banding together to fend off intruding males; and pride males allowing cubs (and often no one else) to feed alongside them. But one memory in particular stands out in my mind. After weeks of observing a pride with young cubs, I realized that one male cub was deaf. He would remain occupied in his own world, playing with a blade of grass, mesmerized by a butterfly, or sleeping deeply oblivious to the sounds around him - including the soft calls of his mother or an aunt saying it was time to move on. He was often lost, unintentionally abandoned until a lioness would return to find him. I was sure he wouldn't last long. How could he? Nature is wild and beautiful but also unforgiving, with no room for the weak or compromised. But every time I returned to the pride, he was always there, somehow persevering.

And then one day, I noticed him sleeping with his paw resting over his mother's tail. When his mum twitched her tail, he was jolted awake, and sat up for the lion cub equivalent of a head count. And he would do this every time. When it came time for the pride to move, he had learned to feel it rather than hear it. From then on, he was always sure to be touching a pride mate when they slept to avoid being lost or left behind, and to remain within the safety of his extended family.

This little cub showed me the extraordinary resilience of his kind; he was adapting to his world, and was going to find a way to survive. Clever little fellow, I thought. But while he was acquiring his skills to overcome his limitations, I knew they were no match against the persecution he and his species face on a day-to-day basis. The last time I saw him, he was old enough to go out on his own and establish his own territory. While I do not know what his outcome was, sadly, the ending of his story is probably no different than the ending of most - that his life ended prematurely, due to a bullet, a spear, or a lethal dose of poison.

Lions are a resilient species, but they need our help. Panthera is working to conserve wild lions across Africa by employing the solutions to halt human-lion conflict. Please help us reach our goal of raising $30,000 to provide critical support for lions in the following ways:

  • $100 a month supports the salary of a local guardian protecting lions
  • $350 a month pays a well-trained park guard to secure and help survey an area
  • $600 covers the costs of constructing one 'boma' - used to protect livestock from lions
  • $1,000 helps cover the costs of an aerial flight to survey or track lion

Please join Panthera today. Your support and efforts can help us reach our goal to 'Let Lions Live.'


Dr. Luke Hunter
Executive Vice President, Panthera

P.S. With Mother's Day just around the corner, please consider making a donation to Panthera in your mother's name. Every dollar counts and goes directly to the field.

P.P.S. To thank you for your donation of any amount, and for passing this email along to three friends, you will be given a link to download a unique Panthera screensaver filled with stunning photos of wild lions from across Africa.