Half Of Africa's Lion Population May Be Gone In 20 Years

Posted: Oct 27 2015, 9:13pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


African Lion Population Shrink to Half in Next 20 Years
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The top predator is rapidly declining almost everywhere in Africa, study suggests.

Africa’s most iconic predator - the lion - is facing the threat of extinction. 

A new study finds that the lion populations in west, central and east Africa has reduced to 50 percent over the past two decades. If the pattern continues the same way, the charismatic big cat will decline to a further half in just the next twenty years.

Researchers from the University of Oxford looked at the surveys of 47 lion populations since 1990 and created population models to predict the future trends. 

They found that lion populations are declining rapidly everywhere in Africa, except four southern countries: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

There is a “67% chance that lions in West and Central Africa decline by one-half, while estimating a 37% chance that lions in East Africa also decline by one-half over two decades.” Study claimed.

East Africa is the most successful region for lion conservation and is considered a stronghold for wild lions.

“There are excellent lion populations that are doing well in East Africa, but it turns out that they’re the exception, not the rule.” Luke Hunter, president of the wild-cat conservation organization Panthera and one of the authors of the study said.

A combination of factors is to be blamed for the drastic decline in lion populations. They are threatened by widespread habitat loss, prey depletion, killing to protect humans and hunting for recreational purposes. 

The lion is currently listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List but rapid decline is making it a strong contender to be shifted it to threatened or endangered status.

Research suggests that greatly increased conservation efforts can prevent lion from disappearing from the face of the earth.

“Declining populations require immediate increases in financial support and improved governance and management capacity to reverse current trends, and cost-effective monitoring will be essential in all of the important remaining lion populations.” Study wrote.

The study was published in PNAS.

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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