Lion numbers in west and central Africa are projected to decline a further 50 per cent in the next two decades without a major conservation effort, according to an international team of scientists.

The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, also shows that lion numbers in east Africa are declining, although less dramatically.

The team estimated the trajectory of lion populations by analysing regional trend data for 47 different lion populations in Africa.

The analysis also showed increases in lion populations in the south, in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and, somewhat ironically, Zimbabwe.

Lead author, Dr Hand Bauer of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the University of Oxford, said:

These findings clearly indicate that the decline of lions can be halted, and indeed reversed as in southern Africa. Unfortunately, lion conservation is not happening at larger scales, leading to a vulnerable status of lions globally.

In fact, the declines in many countries are quite severe and have enormous implications.

If resources for wild lands cannot keep pace with mounting levels of threat, the flagship species of the African continent may cease to exist in many countries.

Based on the study, the authors recommend that the lion be regionally uplifted to ‘endangered’ in central and east Africa, where they are currently listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

Keep reading...Show less
Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)