Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Humans are fearful of being attacked by lions and of their livestock being killed by lions. In most cases, this has not been a large problem. Lions have historically coexisted with the Masai and their cows in east Africa. When the prey base is plentiful, lions do not typically attack cattle. Also, if a lion sees a human on foot, it will typically run in the opposite direction.
There have been well-publicized attacks on humans by lions, such as the man-eating lions of Tsavo (killed 135 construction workers) portrayed in the 1996 movie The Ghost and the Darkness. As lions lose habitat, they are more frequently entering human inhabited areas, thus creating more conflict and potential for "problem lions" that attack humans.
Lions are frequently infected with FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) which is similar to HIV. In Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Kruger National Park of South Africa, 92% of lions tested had FIV. FIV does not seem to adversely affect lions but it will kill domestic cats.
Negative Impacts: injures humans (bites or stings); causes or carries domestic animal disease
- Pickrell, J. 2004. "Man-Eating Lions Not Aberrant, Experts Say" (On-line). National Geographic News. Accessed February 12, 2004 at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/02/0211_030211_tsavolions.html.