Lion populations in Africa could halve in just 20 years study says

The number of lions in Africa could be dramatically reduced over the next 20 years. A study conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature states that in unprotected areas of Africa the lion population could almost halve in that timeframe. According to the study the loss of habitat, hunting, and a demand for traditional medicine have all contributed to population decline.

Lion populations are dwindling across Africa

Lion populations are dwindling across Africa Image by David Dennis / CC BY 2.0

The study finds that there is a 67% chance that lion populations in West and Central Africa will be reduced by half within 20 years. The lion populations of East Africa have a 37% chance of being halved. The only areas having success are the small fenced-in reserves with ongoing funding. Areas with the largest populations are Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

Lions are currently considered "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and this study may help to get them categorized at "very high risk of extinction in the wild" which would mean greater efforts would be put into protecting them.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. The predictions are based on trends in 47 lion populations, containing more than 8,200 animals.

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