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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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 Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
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 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. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
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 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.

All About America

AppleAndroid