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Program Big Cats Initiative

Background Info

Lions are the only big cats that form prides, or groups, to hunt and defend their territory. Lions typically prey on baboons, water buffalo, rodents, zebras, and antelopes. As human populations increase and encroach on lion habitats, conflicts between humans and lions arise because they are forced to compete for food and space. In certain areas, lions regularly hunt and kill livestock. Livestock owners often retaliate by killing the lion or members of its pride. Researchers are trying to learn about lion behavior by using radio collars to track lions and monitor their locations and the health of the populations. In order to attach the radio collars, the lions need to be tranquilized. When the lions are sedated, scientists are able to perform a physical examination. The physicals provide information about the growth rates, ages, and general health of the lions. This information can then be used to better understand and manage lion populations, especially those that come into contact with humans and livestock.

Questions

1. 

Why do scientists use radio collars?

Show Answer

The radio collars allow the scientists to track and monitor the lions.

2. 

What types of information do scientists collect during the lion's physical exam?

Show Answer

During the physical exam, scientists record information about the lion's age, weight, and length.

3. 

What types of information do the radio collar and video camera provide?

Show Answer

The radio collar and video camera help the scientists monitor the movement, range, and behavior of the lion.

4. 

Why is it important to track and monitor lions that live near humans and livestock?

Show Answer

Humans and lions compete for food and space. Lions coming into contact with humans or livestock can have deadly consequences.

For Further Exploration

Credits

Media Credits

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Writer

Angela M. Cowan, Education Specialist and Curriculum Designer

Editors

Elizabeth Wolzak, National Geographic Society
Julie Brown, National Geographic Society

Expert Reviewer

Dr. Luke Dollar, Conservation Scientist

Producer

Alison Michel

National Geographic Program

Big Cats Initiative

Sources

Bauer, H., Nowell, K. & Packer, C. 2008. Panthera leo. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>.

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