(WILDLIFE) A new study conducted by Biodiversity and Conservation has confirmed that lions are rapidly losing ground across Africa’s once-thriving savannahs. No surprise here, this drop in area is solely due to burgeoning human population growth and subsequent, massive land-use conversion. Representing the most comprehensive assessment of the state and vitality of African savannah habitat to date, the report maintains that the lion has lost 75 percent of its original natural habitat in Africa, a reduction that has devastated lion populations across the continent. Read on to learn more about the reasons for this sharp decrease in habitat. — Global Animal
Michael Destries, ecorazzi
Bad news for the overall state of lions in Africa: A report published Tuesday in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation says the big cats that roam the continent’s savannahs have lost as much as 75 percent of their habitat in less than 50 years.
And while over 100,000 lions once roamed Africa, today populations number less than 32,000.
As you would expect, humans are to blame for the sharp decrease in habitat. From 1960 to 2010, the number of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa rocketed from 229 million to 863 million. By 2050, that number is expected to double to more than 1.753 billion.
So yeah, it’s easy to see why there’s such grave concern not only for lions, but for all large mammals in Africa. This century does not currently bode well for several species.
“Lion numbers have declined precipitously in the last century,” the report concludes. “Given that many now live in small, isolated populations, this trend will continue. The situation in West Africa is particularly dire, with no large population remaining and lions now absent from many of the region’s national parks. Central Africa is different in that it has a very large contiguous lion area centred in the Central Africa Republic. In view of reported declines, it still does not qualify as a stronghold. Populations in these regions are genetically distinct. Keeping these populations from extinction will require conservation efforts well beyond the dismal performance of the region’s other protected areas.”
Such reports make the work of organizations like African Wildlife Foundation (remember their successful habitat protection campaign with Disneynature’s “African Cats” film?) and WildAid all the more important. Without action, we could entire species wiped out in less than a generation.