West African Lion Faces Extinction
To many, the mighty lion is the face of African wildlife and one of the most recognized predators across the world.
But despite sitting on top of the food chain, the lion is a vulnerable species and a new report concludes that the African lion is facing extinction across the entire West African region.
The new study reveals that the West African lion is down to a population estimated at 250, and these individuals are restricted to four isolated populations.
The paper, published in the journal PLOS One, was led by Panthera’s survey coordinator Dr Philipp Henschel and co-authored by an international team including Oxford University’s Professor David Macdonald and Dr Lauren Coad. It is the result of a six-year survey, covering 11 countries where lions were presumed to exist over the last 20 years.
The team discovered that West African lions now survive in only five countries: Senegal and Nigeria, with a single trans-frontier population on the shared borders of Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso. They are genetically distinct from the better-known lions of famous game parks in East and southern Africa. Recent molecular research shows they are closely related to the extinct ‘Barbary Lions’ which once roamed North Africa, as well as to the last Asiatic lions surviving in India.
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