Many of you may know that fewer than 30,000 wild African lions exist today, but what do you know about the state of lions in W Africa? Field surveys carried out in 2009 by Panthera & our partners showed that Nigeria was home to fewer than 50 lions, representing 2 of 4 lion populations left in W Africa. Read the 2011 Nigerian lion survey report to learn about the state of Nigeria’s lions today http://bit.ly/ybrxpL
‘India’s Last Lions’ by Panthera’s President, Dr. Luke Hunter, Published in BBC Wildlife Magazine
The March 2012 issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine features an article by Panthera’s President and lion expert, Dr. Luke Hunter, on ‘India’s Last Lions’ – the world’s only remaining population of 300-400 wild Asiatic lions secluded to India’s Gir Forest (see map below).
Pick up your copy of BBC Wildlife Magazine today to learn about the rise and fall of the Asiatic lion over the centuries, the current human-lion conflicts that threaten the survival of the species today, and read Dr. Hunter’s reflections on what may represent the only hope for the future of the Asiatic lion. The March issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine is now on sale.
Learn about Panthera’s work to save the fewer than 30,000 African lions that remain through Project Leonardo.
About the Asiatic Lion
Scientific Name: Panthera leo persica
Current Range: Gir Conservation Area, India
IUCN Status: Endangered
Threats: Forest degradation, retaliatory killings by local herders and drowning in wells.
Physical Features: Slightly smaller than the African lion. On average adult males measure 2.75ms (9 ft) in length and weigh 160–190kg (350-420 pounds) while adult females measure approximately 2.6m (8 ft) and weigh 110–120kg (240-265 pounds).
Diet: Chital, sambar, nilgai and wild boar; also domestic livestock.
Life Cycle: Breeds all year. Births peak Feb–early April. Litters of 1–5 cubs are born after a gestation of 110–116 days.
Photos generously provided by wildlife photographer, Uri Golman.
See more of Uri’s photos at www.urigolman.com.
Last April, Panthera reported on field surveys carried out in 2009 by Panthera, WCS Nigeria and the Nigerian National Park Service, which revealed that Nigeria was then home to fewer than just 50 individual lions. Approximately 15-20 lions were estimated to live within Nigeria’s Yankari Game Reserve, while the remaining 30-35 lions were found to reside in Kainji Lake National Park in western Nigeria. These fragile populations represented two of only four known lion populations that remained in West Africa.
In order to closely monitor Nigeria’s endangered lion populations and measure the impact of ongoing conservation initiatives, Panthera’s Lion Program Survey Coordinator, Dr. Philipp Henschel, and scientists from WCS Nigeria, the Nigerian National Park Service, and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of Bauchi State conducted follow-up surveys from January to February and May to June of 2011.
Panthera, in collaboration with our partners in Nigeria, has just released a report summarizing the results of the 2011 Nigerian lion population surveys. This report reveals that in just two years time, Nigeria’s lion populations have drastically declined from an estimated 44 individual lions in 2009 to just 34 adult lions in 2011. Astonishingly, scientists estimate that fewer than 5 lions remain in the Yankari Game Reserve, which as noted above, was estimated to hold a population of 15-20 lions in 2009.
The primary reason for the decline of Nigeria and West Africa’s lions is human-lion conflict. When overhunting occurs of the lions prey base by local people, lions often turn to an easy and available food source – people’s livestock. These scenarios rarely end well for lions, who are frequently hunted or poisoned by villagers in retribution. The growth of human populations and the expansion of agricultural developments into the lion’s habitat only serve to exacerbate this problem.
Without concerted action, it is likely that Nigeria’s lions will disappear. In response, through Project Leonardo, Panthera’s scientists are working closely with local partners in Nigeria to strengthen anti-poaching patrols in the remaining populations and to continue to track and monitor the last 34 lions estimated to remain in Nigeria.
In the near future, Panthera’s lead field scientist in West Africa, Dr. Philipp Henschel, will conduct a large survey in West Africa which will, for the first time, establish the distribution and status of lions in the WAP Complex – a protected area in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger that is estimated to harbor the largest remaining lion population in West Africa – see map.
Be sure to check back with us for updates on Dr. Henschel’s surveys and the status of Nigeria’s lions.
To help Panthera save Africa’s lions, consider giving to our ‘Let Lions Live’ campaign.
Read Panthera’s April 2011 Newsletter article – Panthera Scientist has Rare Encounter with Regionally Endangered Nigerian Lion.