...and great of SANParks to get back to you so proffessionally!
Jane I appreciate your concern for lions but with all reading etc and experience I have had in the bush I still disagree that lions are under more threat than Riverine Rabits. As much as I respect the film crews operating out of Botswana etc making a big deal out of the lion decline is perhaps also a marketing initiative to promote the selling of their product
Although their are some excellent film makers and great footage by many etc some of the rubbish that gets put on Nat Geo still shocks me.
There are thousands of species to worry about before we focus on lions. People are always worried about the big animals because its what they can relate to more easily. I would say it would be far more important (and admirable) for wildlife film makers to go to places like West Africa where there are many more species under threat due to logging and the bushmeat trade and make the world aware of whats going on there.
We have such a great understanding of lions and leopards etc in comparison to these other species and there are soooo many wild life film makers filming the same stuff over and over again because it lions that sell documentaries, not rare Colubus monkeys etc or even the Ethiopian Highland Wolf etc
Reffering to the links (the one doesnt work), firstly that Nat Geo one really has no bearing on anything as decline of species has not just solely occured for lion - with the human population explosion you will notice that all wildlife all over Africa has followed this trend. And canned lion hunting is a whole different thing and even if thousands of lions were hunted annually through canned hunting it would have no impact on the wild population as they are pretty much all bred for the purpose.
AND did you know that when lions have escape from KNP and Sabi Sands in the last few years many have been shot because no one needs them or has place for them. They arent even protected by law in the way wild dogs are.
Lion are not adapted to kill small animals such as hares and rabbits, and will tend to battle, should they even try. They are simply too big to catch these nimble animals.
Lions dont go for bunnies so there is no need to worry.
Imberbe and Jane I have to disagree with you both here - I personally have never come across this info from reliable resources and it follows the same sort of thinking as those people who say hyenas are only scavengers. Having followed lions offroad in the Lowveld extensively over a 2-year period, a lot of their prey included scrub hares and impala, steenbok and duiker fawns. People take the energy balance of animals too literally - I can promise you 7 lions will go out of their way to catch a baby impala. I Saw a chase once were 7 lions were closing in and were about to pull down an adult male waterbuck when a baby impala dashed from a nearby bush - it was amazing how all 7 lions completely focussed their attention on the impala and ripped it to shreds with some lions getting a drop of blood at most.
Jane it may have also been the very friends of yours that documented a lioness (I think she had cubs in the area) hunting and succesfully catching springhares. ALL predators are opportunists and you musnt think for one moment that they will miss an easy meal no matter the size and in the case of a pregnant lioness she would avoid leaving the area as much as possible and make use of any energy opportunity no matter the size. And also dont think for one moment that lions are not agile and unable to catch a scrub hare - lions might look large and uneasy on their feet but Ive seen their agility in catching many small mammals.
And to add one of the old male lions I followed seemed to be surviving on tortoises, while in another instance a healthy female even caught, killed and started eating a large terrapin.
Was it Gus Mills who documented that Male lions in the Kalahari Dunes spent the night hunting mainly Bat Eared Foxes and Porcupines!
Anyway I have never said for one minute that I am completely against the idea of lions in the Karoo National Park. It will change things probably for the better, I hope. I would also like to remind those who follow what scientists say like a religion, is that some of the biggest disasters in nature have occured as a result of scientists making poor decisions - offhand I dont have all the examples I am looking for but one that comes to mind is the introduction of the Cane Toads into Australia.
'Cane toads, introduced into Australia to control beetles that were destroying sugarcane crops, are still spreading across Australia. They failed to control the cane beetles, and became a major pest themselves. Cane toads can harm native wildlife by eating small animals and poisoning larger predators that try to eat them. Household pets are also at risk from poisoning. So far, there is no known way to control cane toads across large areas, but scientists are searching for a biological control agent that is specific to the toads.'
All I am saying is that if for example if lions started preying on Riverine Rabbits the consequences could be dire for the Karoo NP population!