Humans & Lions: Conflicts in Africa

The lion is one of Africa’s biggest predators, but its relationship with humans in many regions is far from great. Human tolerance towards lions can be very thin, causing the human population to retaliate against lions. Hopefully, you will better understand the origins of the human-lion conflicts along with the consequences on Africa’s lion prides after reading this short report.

The Origins of the Conflicts

Many villages breed cattle while the major wildlife ecosystem in Africa is not totally fenced; livestock and lions both have the liberty to cross paths. Moreover, the wildlife’s loss of habitat due to human development pushes lions and humans closer. Thus the lions may have the opportunity to eat the human population’s cattle. When this happens, humans may kill the lions in retaliation. Because most of these villages are more poor than rich, it proves more challenging for them to make up for the loss of livestock. However, as presented by the University of Minnesota, according to recent studies in eastern and southern Africa, more livestock has been lost because of either disease or drought than lion attacks. 

 Another cause of tension in the human-lion relationship is the human killings caused by a few lions known as man-eating lions. Lesser factors of conflict concerning most African wildlife also include the transmission of diseases to livestock or humans and the attacks on domestic animals.

Consequences on Lion Prides

In some regions, human-lion conflicts are one of the primary reasons for the reducing lion population , and killings by humans are one of the major threats to this species. 

National Geographic’s documentary entitled Tree Climbing Lions follows a lion pride to study its particular behavior of climbing trees. However, at the end of the film, it is revealed that the three females and eight cubs of that particular pride had been poisoned by the human population, presumably in retaliation for hunting their cattle. The film also presents a lioness named Natureenda; she was caught in a hunter’s snare headfirst and, although she managed to escape, she was gravely injured: one of her eyes was taken out, and her left ear dropped on the side of her head. The injury circled the left side of her neck to her right eye and made her unable to follow the rest of her pride.

In brief, the conflicts between humans and lions in Africa illustrate how human development and the lion killings bring new struggles regarding the fauna. However, those conflicts differ from region to region and do not refer to all wildlife. Finally,  the human management of the problem could be improved by raising awareness about the lion killings in the African communities, or by giving compensation in the case of livestock loss or human death due to a lion. 


Braczkowski, Alexander, field producer. Tree Climbing Lions. National Geographic, 2018.

“Managing Human-Lion Conflict.” University of Minnesota,

Lamarque, F., editor. Human-Wildlife Conflict in Africa: Causes, Consequences and Management Strategies. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2009.

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By Dalyane Deblois


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