Dr Philip Stander has been working towards the better understanding and conservation of these majestic felines for decades now. His work has shed light on many hitherto unknown attributes of the lions. Despite living in an adverse environment, these lions are quite healthy and fit, in fact perhaps even more so than the lions that live in plains. It appears that the harsh terrain and scarcity of prey has played a part in molding these great cats into their chiseled physical form. Since they reside in an open unrestricted wilderness the lions stray over large distances and are often seen living in isolated small groups, in contrast to other lions who generally live in a closely bound pride. Also, it appears that the desert lions are probably more patient and skilled in their hunting techniques than other members of their species residing elsewhere.
There are between six to nine hundred lions at the moment in Namibia. Out of these a medium-density population exists in the Kunene region of northern Namib desert. This population essentially comprises these desert lions. They usually prey on wild herbivores including kudu, gemsbock etc but at times they do take down cattle belonging to local people. This brings them into conflict with the natives who sometimes shoot, poison or trap the big cats in retaliation.
Dr Philip and his team of the 'Desert Lion Conservation Project' have been working tirelessly towards the study and protection of these most remarkable of lions in that part of the world. They collar, monitor and study the big cats as well as track their movements and attempt to prevent conflicts with humans. They've got a very informative website at Desertlion.info that is well worth visiting and observing in detail the tireless efforts of these dedicated scientists and conservationists. Their efforts were also highlighted in the widely acclaimed documentary Desert Lions.
These desert lions merit study and protection not just for their uniqueness but also because they represent an important step in the evolution of predators towards changes in environment and habitat. As climate changes and desertification takes hold in many parts of our planet, these extraordinary lions of the desert may hold the key towards understanding and prepetuating the survival of many different animals on earth.