African lion population diminishing, study shows
December 5, 2012
The focus on preserving wildlife across the globe has been a main objective as of late, and now the attention is on the African lion. A new study conducted by researchers from Duke University found that African lions are running out of habitat and their situation is quite dire, according to NBC News.
"Lions are not going to go extinct, but they are indeed going extinct locally," co-author of the study, Stuart Pimm, told the news source. "Those in West Africa are in particularly bad shape. It would be tragic if one could see lions only in a couple of places in Africa."
The university looked at new satellite data and discovered that 75 percent of Africa's savannas were fragmented by farmers and other developers over the past 50 years. Only 25 percent of the land the lions' ecosystem consisted of is still there, and this is negatively affecting these animals. The human population has increased in the past 30 years in West Africa, whereas fewer than 500 lions are still in region, the media outlet reports.
The researchers estimated that there are around 32,000 lions in Africa, which is down from 100,000 in 1960. The researchers are hoping this study will help others target the specific areas and animals that need help in Africa.
"Some large parks in West Africa have lost all their lions and essentially all of their wildlife," Pimm told the publication. "There has to be a political commitment to protect wildlife and, of course, a recognition that viewing wildlife can bring in substantial revenues."
The other issue is that these lions are wandering outside of the national parks, and are ending up in places where people live. These lions will then eat the people's livestock, which is creating a much bigger problem.
"The difficulty is to prevent the conflicts that occur when lions take livestock, typically at night," Pimm told the media outlet.
As a result, the Duke researchers are also looking for solutions to these problems, so the African lions can prosper in their natural habitats.