Kenya losing 100 lions every year: conservation group


June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 17, 2009 at 1:31 PM EDT

Kenya's lion population has been dropping by an average 100 lions each year since 2002, the Kenya Wildlife Service announced Monday, warning that the big cats could be extinct in the next two decades.

Cattle herders who kill the lions in retaliation for attacks on their stock have been blamed for much of the decline, the organisation's spokesman Paul Udoto told AFP.

Habitat destruction, disease and the rising human population also played a role in the drop from 2,749 lions seven years ago to the current 2,000, Udoto said.

"We need to take measures to stabilise that number at 2,000 or increase it," he explained. "Communities are the largest threat to the lions and other cats."

Udoto added that educating people on the behavior and importance of the cats to tourism is a priority among other efforts to save them.

Tourism, which relies on Kenya's renowned wildlife safaris and sun-drenched Indian Ocean beaches, is a key foreign exchange earner.

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