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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid