Lion and Club


This week we’re learning about conservation. Conservation means protecting things we find in nature - this includes plants, animals and minerals which we might find in the ground. All of these are really important, but we are going to look at animal conservation as this is something that David Livingstone was interested in too!

When he was travelling across the continent of Africa, David saw lots of wonderful things that he had never seen before. This included animals such as elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, rhinos, hippos, monkeys, and many more.

He was amazed by these animals and watched them for hours, writing about them and drawing pictures. Sometimes the animals were friendly but at times David had to be careful because they could be dangerous as well. David was attacked by a lion very soon after arriving in Africa and fell sick many times from being bitten by mosquitos.

When people around the world began to hear of David’s stories of African animals, many followed in his footsteps to see them too. However, some people went to Africa to hunt these great animals. Hunting is still a problem today and many animals are also in danger because their homes are being destroyed.


Welcome to Tunya Investigates

Welcome to Tunya Investigates. The new podcast mini-series brought to you by the David Livingstone Birthplace.

Join Tunya the lion as he learns all about the museum collection and about David Livingstone himself. In this first episode we discuss a very special hippo tooth from the museum's collection, how it got there and how we look after it. With special guest Learning Assistant Rosa Cato and host Tunya the lion.

You can listen using the player here or via your favourite podcast player.

Activity 1 - Fishy Study

As a young boy David enjoyed fishing in the River Clyde. Later in life, when he became an explorer, David made detailed scientific notes and drawings of the aquatic scenes of rivers, plants and animals. Part of this work involved catching fish and studying them in detail.

These days, many fish are in danger of de-population due to habitat destruction, over-fishing and the introduction of alien species to their waters. In Scotland, certain fish are protected by law, so we can keep their numbers high and avoid over-fishing them or disturbing their homes.

Have you ever been fishing in your local river? What kind of fish do you think might live there?

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Activity 2 - Lion Attack

Lions are beautiful and impressive creatures. When David had only been in Africa a short time, his arm was badly broken by a lion’s bite. This became a famous story from his travels, because it is so dramatic and gruesome.

Have you ever thought about how that lion felt? Did you know that the same lion bit two other men after biting Livingstone? And did you know what happened to the lion afterwards?

Read this account of David’s encounter with the lion and have a go at putting yourself in the lion’s paws.

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Activity 3 - Which Animals are the Most Dangerous?

One of the best-known stories about David Livingstone is his attack by a lion, shortly after he began his travels through Africa. When you think of a lion, what do you think of? Big scary teeth? Long sharp claws? Fearsome roar?

Lions are not to be trifled with, that’s for sure. The community David stayed with shortly after arriving in Africa was worried about a group of lions living nearby that had been attacking their animals. David wrote in his diary,

“It is well known that if one of a troop of lions is killed, the others take the hint and leave that part of the country. So, the next time the herds were attacked, I went with the people to kill one of the lions in the hope that the whole pride would leave the area.”

When they reached the group of lions, David was able to shoot one. While he was reloading his gun, the lion attacked him and broke his arm very badly. After attacking two of Livingstone’s companions, the lion died from its wounds.

From this story, which do you think is more dangerous – the lion or the human?

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Activity 4 - Extinction

In reality, human beings are responsible for more destruction than any other animals. David killed this lion because it was attacking his friends in the local village, but some people in Victorian times killed animals for other reasons like sport, scientific research and sometimes just to take home as trophies.

David was worried about the impact trophy hunting would have on animal populations.

Today, many animals are in danger of becoming extinct because too many  have been hunted or their homes have been destroyed. To find out more, watch this video.

YouTube Video: Are Endangered Species Worth Saving?

What can you do to help?

Create a fact file about one endangered African animal. Find out why your chosen animal is endangered. Find out how many of your chosen animal are living in Africa today and whether this number is increasing or decreasing. Now you must do something to help protect your animal. You could sign a petition, create a campaign or organise a fundraising activity to donate money to a conservation charity.

Here are some animal facts from the WWF to get you started:

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Activity 5 - Otterly Cute

Did you know that some species of otters are endangered? There are 13 different types of otter and they live all over the world.

In Scotland, we are most likely to see wild otters on the west coast and islands, and these are Eurasian Otters. There are around 10,300 of them in the UK and most of them live in Scotland. Their population has been gradually increasing for the last 25 years - which is great news.

Unfortunately, there are types of otter in other parts of the world which are endangered. Like sea otters, for example, which were hunted for their fur in the 19th century and nearly made extinct.

These days, they are under threat for many reasons: the fur trade, destruction of habitat, oil spills and fishing nets. They are found in Canada, Russia, Japan and the USA.

Use our template to make your own cuddling parent and baby otter. Just cut the shapes out and attach the arms and legs using paper fasteners – or with glue if you don’t have paper fasteners. Then colour them in and send us a picture.

Fun Facts About Sea Otters

  • Unlike most marine mammals, sea otters don’t have a layer of blubber (fat) to keep them warm.
  • Instead, they have the thickest coat in the animal kingdom: up to 150,000 strands of hair per square centimetre
  • When otters sleep, they wrap themselves in sea weed and float in a group called a 'raft'.
  • Sea otters sometimes use tools (like rocks and shells) to eat their food – very well mannered.
  • A group of otters can be called a 'romp' or a 'bevy'.

To find out more about otters, check out the UK Wild Otter Trust website for some great educational material:

Sea Otter
Sea Otter
Otterly Cute! Template
Otterly Cute! Template (PDF)

Activity 6 - Origami Lion

Although lions are very fierce and have no natural predators, according to the World Wildlife Fund, their population has declined by 40% in the last three generations.

This decline is partly due to a reduction in their natural habitat (which means that areas where they live are being changed or destroyed). It is also because human beings still hunt lions. With only around 20,000 in the wild, African lions are officially classified as ‘vulnerable’.

Lots of charities focus on conserving and boosting numbers of lions in the wild including:

To celebrate this beautiful big cat why not follow these instructions to make yourself a lion corner bookmark from origami? You can use it when you read more about wildlife and conservation.

Also see our other Learning Resources and Learning sections for more information.

If you have enjoyed these activities please share them with your friends and family.


We would like to acknowledge the support and help of our partners in creating these resources.

WOSDEC - Global Learning Centre

We are very grateful to our key funders the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Government for their support in helping us deliver the Birthplace Project.

National Lottery Heritage Fund
Scottish Government
Historic Environment Scotland
Note: Please note that David Livingstone Birthplace (and the David Livingstone Trust) is no longer part of National Trust Scotland (NTS). NTS members will therefore no longer receive discounted/free entry to the Birthplace Museum.

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