Changing Planet

Rethinking Lion Conservation (Podcast)

When an American dentist killed a beloved African lion named Cecil last summer, the world responded with outrage. But for biologists, the issue is more complicated. African lions are in a downward spiral. And biologists have long seen trophy hunting as a vital tool to support conservation and help local people tolerate animals that kill their loved ones and livestock. Even so, with Africa’s population growing rapidly, some are calling for a radically different approach.

To get a better sense of how biologists view the issue of trophy hunting and the risks facing lions, both in Africa and the U.S., I explored the issue with two leading lion experts. One, Chris Wilmers, studies the American lion, commonly known as the mountain lion or puma. The other, Craig Packer, has studied African lions for several decades.

Listen to my podcast:

Liza Gross is a senior editor at PLOS Biology and writes frequently about conservation, ecology and environmental health for other media outlets. This blog post and podcast were published originally on the PLOS Biologue Community Blog.

Liza Gross, a freelance science journalist and senior editor at PLOS Biology, channeled an early love of wildlife into a lifelong exploration of the natural world. She's written for diverse outlets, including Discover, Slate and The Washington Post, mostly about wildlife, conservation, and health. Her stories reflect a deep curiosity about the intersection between science and society with an eye toward reminding humans of our place in nature. She's a 2013 NYU Reporting Award recipient and Dennis Hunt health journalism fellow.

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

Social Media