African Lions Face Threat of Extinction

by Stephanie

Many species are at threat for a possible extinction, but one species in particular that is at high risk is the West African Lion population. According to The ICUN Red List of Threatened Species the Panthera Leo, otherwise known as the African Lion , is considered vulnerable to extinction.  An assessment conducted in 2012 by the ICUN predicted that there would be a 30% depletion of the lion population over the next two decades.  The organization for wild cat conservation Panthera released a report recently in January of this year stating that at one point there was a West African Lion population that were spread out between Senegal and Nigeria, but now there’s only an estimated 250 adult lions bound to only four isolated and endangered groups, one group now having only 50 lions.

What are factors causing such a threat to this notoriously known “king of the jungle” species? Many leading causes are: habitat destruction, habitat loss, loss of traditional prey species, disease, and being hunted by humans.

Dr. Philipp Henschel , who is  Panthera’s  Lion Program Survey coordinator, reported ,”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.” Their team found that West African lions now exist in only five countries, Senegal, Nigeria and a single trans-frontier population on the shared borders of Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso.

The PLOS journal “The Lion in West Africa Is Critically Endangered,” by Dr. Henschel and his team concluded that the West African Lion situation needs to be addressed and that urgent investment towards conserving lions should be made to help save the species.

What Is Being Done To Help ?

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a group that is concerned with the African lion population and is trying to urge the government to list this species under the ESA as endangered so that more action may be done. They collect donations and rally support to help aid the saving of the species.

LionAid is another research, charity group that began in 2004 that is dedicated to help raise funds to support lion research. They are engaged in helping conserve and protect the lion species. has a petition by Defenders of National Wildlife Fund that anyone can sign that urges others to take action and help save African Lions from extinction by putting this species on the Endangered species list.

Why is it so important to keep African lions from becoming endangered?

It’s important for all species to exist because it creates balance for all life. Become engaged and try to help by learning more about the threat to the lion population and donating when possible to conserving groups and lion research!

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