Observations By Catman Webb
An Essay On Man VS African Lion
Top Of The Rock Sanctuary Photos
Lions are endangered whether they are on the "list" or not. The governments of Africa that have the last of these beautiful creatures, have no real way of protecting them. Heads of States of many countries including our own, enjoy "the hunt". It's so "Great White Hunter" to bag the lion. It makes small men feel bigger when they can shoot a big male lion with a full mane.
Therein is the problem. Pruning down mature males (maned) may be the downfall of the species. The maned males are the mature males of a pride, which drive out the younger (related) males and force a genetic "stirring". Once a male leaves the pride they wander. They look for a pride they can invade and take the Alpha (mature breeding male spot) and win the right to breed the females (queens/lionesses). This introduces the needed "genetic stir" that enables healthy genetically diverse cubs to be born. Sometimes young males will wander looking for a new pride, as brothers and/or cousins tossed out together, ostracized from their birth pride. They travel together and assist each other in kills. They even cooperate to take over a new pride but only one will be the Alpha, running the other 2-3 related ones off, where those will continue their search for their own pride. Lions are unique in this manner, as other big cats live rather solitarily and genetic diversity is a given. Solitary wandering cats mix up the genetics as they are all finding unrelated partners, by virtue of travel habits.
Lions need the prides to maintain the social structure that sustains their large size in an area where food is hard to get and sparse (and diminishing as we speak). They can assist each other in the hunt and share homepride duties, such as watching/protecting offspring from African wild dogs and hyenas, who will kill and gobble up the cubs thus reducing their future competition for food.
So, when human hunters make their kills based on the preference of pride Alpha males (for the manes) they disrupt the natural genetic "stir". Young males do not end up leaving the pride. They don't have to with the "old man" out of the way. Mothers and sisters get bred by males barely showing mane. By the time they get maned they too are hunted, as the preference of poachers and licensed hunters. That leaves yet another cycle of male offspring breeding back into the same genetic pool. Three generations of this (generations are short when 3 year old new-maned lions are pruned out) and the pool is so inbred that disease and sterility begins to emerge as natural weaknesses. Wildlife biologists are already observing this scenario.
This makes a case for a moratorium on licensed and/or canned hunts. The only real way to make that happen is with the international treaties that protect animals from mankind. Their natural hunting grounds are very limited at this point, and all this "pruning out" of male lions make it an intolerable situation.
Having it legal to serve lion in restaurants in the USA, and a few other countries makes it a certainty that genetic diversity is stifled in the private owner/caregiver hands. The people who are engaging in breeding for profit have little concern for "genetic stirring". They want maned males too, and will breed endlessly back into same bloodlines to enhance their efforts. They get good money for the meat, but the maned lion head is a BIG bonus. Looks good on a rug or wall some think. This being a legal operation ensures that no stud books are kept, no thoughts about long term species sustainability, nor worries of making certain that viable healthy females are not overbred/inbred. What makes a person want to eat Lion anyway? I guess it goes back to ego.
"I am a real man, I eat Lion".
There also seems to be some deep psychologically rooted fear, as people realize they too are a food source for another species. It's hard for humans to see themselves as meat for a predator. The fact that we are lower on a food chain than another species is hard to swallow (excuse the pun). Maybe there is a deep seated desire to remove these species from Earth as a subconscious instinct to protect our own species (such as the wild African dogs and hyenas killing cubs). Lions being legal to raise and eat by humans also negatively effects other big cats that are already listed as endangered.
Endangered big cats (such as tigers and leopards) can be slaughtered, and paper work is "modified" to turn them into lions. That makes the meat "legal". The black market readily accepts the big money by-products such as taxidermy mounts, hides, claws, teeth, internal organs, etc. Closing this loophole by making lions endangered also stops the process of paperwork "modification".
Many proponents of banning non-commercial sanctuaries of exotics have no idea of the death knell they are delivering to species who may thrive in the hands of sanctuary caregivers. It isn't a matter of banning, it's a matter of proper sanctuary animal husbandry. Proper secure enclosures is a top issue (for both people and cat's safety). Then sustaining good healthy specimens for life longevity and emotional enhancement. The issue is proper care, not banning. Look at it this way, when all of a particular species is extinct in their natural homelands, sanctuaries may be the only way their species can survive.
Is saving them worth the effort? I think so. The argument that "they will never be able to go back into the wild" does not hold water. If you take an ordinary domestic housecat and turn it loose in the woods, it will most likely survive. They find themselves grabbing up the lesser-abled prey and learning skills quickly that allow them to survive.
We, as mankind, have grown in numbers so large, that we have removed the places these animals call home. As we displace them, we have a moral obligation (to some, even a religious obligation) to make good to them for what we are doing. Vigorous efforts to protect these species that we could exterminate with our own increasing numbers shows good moral character as a species. If we are claiming this Earth as mankind's domain or garden, then we need to also prove that we are capable gardeners.
There is always the inevitable species crash from over-population. It can be proven time and again, from observing deer in the woods, tigers in the jungle, even to bacteria in an incubated petri dish. The results are always the same. Resources are consumed, waste accumulates then the species crashes. How long can we continue to increase our population before we see this formula played out in our species? That could very well be the time that sanctuaried animals can return to the wild. The resources of Earth will greatly expand from a crash in human population. Sad but true.
All of this discussion is based on poor stewardship of man's existence on Earth. We can turn it around.
It's not too late, until it's too late.
We will know when that time has arrived as we will see pandemic disease. Wars over the last of precious resources and governments becoming increasingly restrictive. Governments of the "have" countries will have to be very controlled, to protect it's citizens from the "have not" countries. This stranglehold form of government rule will create dissension within it's own citizenry.
No one is happy when things get real tight, right?
What we have to do is evolve once more. We need to allow this occurrence to take place. It is definitely happening, we see the signs. I am not talking about a change in appearance of humans here, I am talking about a growth in enlightenment, wisdom and temperance. We must understand without forethought, that we do not need 4-5 offspring (or more) per family, especially if it's not economically feasible. We must realize that our population is living longer and causing a dramatic increase in numbers. We must think globally but act locally. Not too terribly difficult for a properly evolved species.
We are all genetically connected. There is no need to procreate based on a concept of preserving a family gene pool. We are all of the same. To feel such a need to forward one's own family line is a miscast thought of finding some sort of immortality.
"I will live on, through my son".
Is that true? He will not be the same person as you. If that is a particular humans reason for progeny, maybe the offspring being different is a good thing. Reckon?
I am not talking about a bunch of people all holding hands singing We Are The World (conceptually nice, though).
I am talking about not having our own offspring.
I am talking about surrogation. Substitution. Raising another's offspring who is less fortunate and could use assistance. Or, substituting an endangered species as a life's work? Maybe that's what many people are doing by creating animal sanctuaries, without thinking of it in those terms. Maybe this is a desire fueled by an ever-increasing presence of evolution. Possibly, there are inner stirrings driving our desires to do what's right to protect our fragile blue planet and all of it's offspring.
Let's not ignore those signs of wisdom. Let's not reject new concepts of care-giving whether it be human or animal. Knee-jerk law making to satisfy loud minorities who think they have all the answers is a possible resistance to a natural order of human evolution. Just because someone has a pretty face, or can remember lines (or use a teleprompter) makes movies, TV shows, political speeches etc., does NOT automatically make them leaders in this evolution-revolution. They could though, if they are evolved enough and truly care. Those who are making the effort could certainly use some assistance.
It is the thinkers, the compassioned ones, that speak of guidance for a new dawn of Earth.
Listen to them.
You will know in your heart if their words are true.