Tags: african | lion | populations | 2035 | decline

African Lion Populations 2035: Species Count Could Halve in Next 20 Years

Image: African Lion Populations 2035: Species Count Could Halve in Next 20 Years
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By    |   Tuesday, 27 Oct 2015 08:52 AM

The population of African lions currently stands around 20,000, however that number could drop by half come 2035, according to a new study.

The study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the only place African lions are maintaining their numbers are in "intensively managed areas," like reserves in the southern portion of the continent.

"These declines are precipitous and will likely lead to functional extinction of many lion populations outside southern Africa," said Matt Hayward, a researcher at England’s Bangor University.

By looking at surveys of 47 lion populations, researchers from the University of Oxford found that, since 1990, lion populations have declined in all regions except the south — specifically Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. All four countries spend significant money to enforce anti-poaching laws, and to house many lions on fenced-in reserves.

"African wildlife is going down the toilet very rapidly, and only spending a great deal of money and effort is going to turn that around," said conservationist Laurence Frank.

Newsweek put the declining numbers in context, reporting that, "At the beginning of the 20th century, there were perhaps a million lions throughout Africa, and by the 1940s there were 450,000. Today there are about 20,000, and that number is continuing to drop."

"We have known for a long time that lions are declining, but this is not just about less lions; it is about lions no longer playing a keystone role in functioning ecosystems," said study co-author Hans Bauer, a scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford. "Lion trends are indicative of a deeper crisis" likely to affect other species, he added.

According to The New York Times, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed adding the African lion to the list of threatened animals under the Endangered Species Act last year. That would require hunters to obtain a permit for importing trophy lions, and only from countries that have "a scientifically sound management plan for African lions," according to the agency.

A decision on the proposed listing is expected later this week.

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The population of African lions currently stands around 20,000, however that number could drop by half come 2035, according to a new study.
african, lion, populations, 2035, decline
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2015-52-27
Tuesday, 27 Oct 2015 08:52 AM
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