A physical search of 13 of the 21 areas designated as protected for West African lions revealed that only 4 of them were populated with the species.
An exhaustive and physical 6 year search covering 13 of the 21 areas designated as protected for West African lions revealed that only 4 of them were populated with the species.
In total, 400 of the big cats are believed to remain. Of those, a mere 250 are able to reproduce.
The report published on the discovery includes a warning that if more effective conservation methods aren’t put in place, within 5 years several West African lion populations could become extinct.
Researchers also acknowledged that current efforts have been plagued by some unique problems.
One is that many of the protected areas are in some of the world’s poorest countries, meaning there just isn’t funding available to monitor them around the clock.
Many of the conservation zones are also in the path of nomadic pastoralists like the Fulani.
Members of the group admitted to the researchers that they have poisoned lions that threatened their herds.
The problem of diminishing population itself has created its own issues, one of which is inbreeding.
In the case of lions, mating among close relatives results in abnormal sperm and low sperm counts.
The research team responsible for the findings now plans to help area conservationists increase the lions’ numbers by working with local governments on budget and personnel needs.