A new comprehensive study published in the science journal PLOS One has revealed “The Lion in West Africa is Critically Endangered”, shedding light on a situation far worse than anticipated with a total population of only 406 West African Lions left.
West African Lions Are In Critical Danger And Listed Critically Endangered
African Lions are considered a “Top Predator” on planet Earth consisting of 8 recognized sub-species.
The majority of lions in Africa can be found in both southern and eastern Africa, yet even those populations were estimated to range between just 16,000-47,000 in 2002-2004 (living in the wild), both regions have been recording dramatic declines at as high as a 50% rate.New scientific analysis has determined that the African lion has lost at least 2/3 of it’s original habitat (75%) and current estimates put the total population at fewer than 35,000.
Since 2004 the West Africa lion has been labeled as “regionally endangered”, but its worse than that. According to this recent report published January 8th, 2014, less than 500 individual lions remain in West Africa reaching the critical, “urgent” level.
The serious threat to West African lions has been wholly ignored by conservationists and scientist who have completed and published extensive research on both Eastern and Southern region African Lions. The science journal noted that in 2005 out of 463 published studies about African lions, not one specifically mentioned the situation with West African lions.
Considered genetically distinct from the Eastern and Southern lions, the West African lion is considered to be a descendant (or share common ancestors) from lions in Asia and carry unique mtDNA haplotypes “not found in other lion populations.”
This extensive research collected Field Survey results dating between October 2006 and May 2012, collected and analyzed other institutional data and reports and live person interviews with those in the “field”, which had never been previously done. The main methods used for collecting population data included aerial surveys, remote cameras, and employing professional trackers in specific protected areas of the region where known populations have existed historically.
The results of this study on West African Lions concluded, “The number of lions remaining in West Africa is estimated at 406 (range: 250-587) individuals,” justifying the critically endangered alarm.Protected areas in Africa are considered the only way in which humans and large mammal species can successfully “co-exist”. Establishing Protected Areas is a successful conservation method around the globe, yet the “performance of the PA (Protected Area) in West Africa ranked poorest in a cross-continental comparison”, citing “bushmeat exploitation” as a dangerous contributor to the collapse of these particular protected areas in West Africa.
Some of the other reasons for the population decline are due to loss of habitat, depletion of prey, and from human-lion conflicts.
Feature image By Ken Stansell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.