Lions have captured the human imagination since the dawn of mankind. Celebrated in art and literature throughout the world, this remarkable animal has fed us and eaten us ever since we first walked on two legs.
The only social cat, lions live in one of the most complex societies in the animal kingdom, and the lion’s mane is one of the most distinctive decorations. Lions can be highly cooperative, hunting together, raising their young together, and they can also be utterly selfish when it comes to food and sex, but underlying everything is their need for trustworthy companions to withstand the constant gang warfare with their own worst enemy: other lions, other prides, that fight for supremacy on the African savannas.
Lions are increasingly endangered and the challenges of conservation are profound: man-eaters have killed more than a thousand people in the past two decades and innumerable livestock have been lost. Sport hunting draws the rich and famous to Africa but has become increasingly controversial and more conspicuously corrupt.
“As the human population continues to grow, lions and people will be crowded ever more closely together, and all these problems could spiral even further out of control,” says University of Minnesota Lion Center Director Dr. Craig Packer. “Without changes to policy and a fresh approach to conservation, the outlook is bleak.”
Join us November 3, when Packer will highlight key findings from his decades of research and outline radical new approaches for conserving not only the Cecils of the world, but the last great wildlife refuges in Africa.
Dr. Craig Packer, PhD, University of Sussex, is a Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, where he also is Director of the Lion Center.
The world’s leading expert on the iconic, endangered African lion, Packer spent 35 years as director of the Serengeti Lion Project through which he published work that advanced lion conservation and shaped international policy protecting lions from habitat loss, human-lion conflict, and sport hunting.
Packer received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1990, became a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in 1997, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. His research, much of which has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, has been featured in National Geographic, Smithsonian,the New York Times, and The New Yorker. He has written more than 100 scientific articles, primarily about lions, and he is the author of Into Africa (University of Chicago Press, 1994), which received the 1995 John Burroughs medal, as well as the recent and much-heralded Lions in the Balance: Man-Eaters, Manes, and Men with Guns (University of Chicago Press, 2015).