News / Science & Technology

Study: West African Lion Threatened with Extinction

West African lions (Philipp Henschel/Panthera)
West African lions (Philipp Henschel/Panthera)
Reuters
West Africa's lions, which once prowled across the region in their tens of thousands, are close to extinction as farmland eats up their ancient habitats and human hunters kill the animals they feed on, a study has shown.
 
Just around 400 of the animals were thought to have survived across 17 countries, according to the paper published in scientific journal PLOS ONE.
 
“These lions are standing on a cliff looking at the chasm of extinction,” Luke Hunter, one of the paper's authors and president of wild cat conservation group Panthera, told Reuters on Tuesday.
 
“It would be very easy for small, isolated populations to be wiped out over the next five-10 years.”
 
Fewer than 250 of the survivors were mature cats, capable of breeding, the study said. But even that ability to produce cubs was limited by the fact they were spread across wide areas in groups that often did not have enough lionesses to sustain a population.
 
The study said there had been no comprehensive study of the size of past populations, though Hunter said there would at one stage have been “many tens of thousands” of lions.
 
The study, led by Panthera, said they were now only present in 1.1 percent of their original habitat and recommended they should be classified as “critically endangered”.
 
Conservation efforts in a region known for its poverty and political instability, have been weak compared to other parts of Africa, and the population density is about 15 times lower compared with lions in east Africa, the study said.
 
Parks in the region typically had four staff or fewer per 100 square kilometers, it added.
 
One of the main reasons for the decline was the conversion of habitat into farmland. Others included sharp falls in the numbers of antelope, buffalo, and other prey, and villagers killing lions in revenge for the loss of livestock.
 
“It's become very complicated for this carnivore at the top of the food chain to find enough space and food to survive,” said Hunter.
 
The West African lion, a relatively slender animal with a thin mane, is genetically distinct from the rest of the African species.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid