New York, NY A report published today concludes that the African lion is facing extinction across the entire West African region. The West African lion once ranged continuously from Senegal to Nigeria, but the new paper reveals there are now only an estimated 250 adult lions restricted to four isolated and severely imperiled populations. Only one of those populations contains more than 50 lions.
Led by Panthera's Lion Program Survey Coordinator, Dr. Philipp Henschel, and co-authored by a team from West Africa, the UK, Canada and the United States, the paper The lion in West Africa is critically endangered was published yesterday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. The report's sobering results represent a massive survey effort taking six years and covering eleven countries where lions were presumed to exist in the last two decades. The new, very fine resolution information builds on an earlier continent-wide review of lion status produced by Duke University, to which Dr. Henschel also contributed. Both surveys received funding from National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative (BCI).
Panthera's Dr. Philipp Henschel explained, "When we set out in 2006 to survey all the lions of West Africa, the best reports suggested they still survived in 21 protected areas. We surveyed all of them, representing the best remaining lion habitat in West Africa. Our results came as a complete shock; all but a few of the areas we surveyed were basically paper parks, having neither management budgets nor patrol staff, and had lost all their lions and other iconic large mammals."
The team discovered that West African lions now survive in on
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