Tag Archives: decline

Lion decline indicates mass extinction

Estimates suggest that today there are around 32,000 to 35,000 lions left. Sixty years ago this  figure was somewere between 400,000 and 500,000, so in a lifetime we have seen a decline of 90 percent or more. Over that period the lion population in India (Panthera leo persica) has clung on and grown from just under 200 animals to about 350 – 400 animals today (from a low in the 1890s of about 20 individuals). Even in the 1940s lions were observed as far west as Iran but the entire Middle East no longer is home to these animals. Over this period the North African population has also dissappeared (with the last sightings in the late 1950s).

Worse still, the remaining bulk of population in sub-saharan Africa (see figure below) is patchy and sometimes involves tiny micropopulations, particularly in Central and West Africa, which could easily follow the fate of Middle Eastern and North African populations.

Riggio et al (2012) Densities of lions in Africa


Black SA, Fellous A, Yamaguchi N, Roberts DL (2013) Examining the Extinction of the Barbary Lion and Its Implications for Felid Conservation. PLoS ONE 8(4): e60174. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060174

Riggio, J., Jacobson, A., Dollar, L. et al. (2012) The size of savannah Africa: a lion’s (Panthera leo) view.Biodiversity Conservation. DOI 10.1007/s10531-012-0381-4