An alarming study predicts that nearly half of all the lions in Africa will be gone in just 20 years' time.
Lions don’t have it easy. They are celebrated in pop culture, hunted for sport, and feared by anyone who crosses paths with one. Conservation efforts focusing on lions have been met with varying degrees of success, but according to a report from the Examiner, it may be too late.
A recent study warns that in only 20 years, nearly half of the lions on the entire continent of Africa will have died out. Even though lion populations are slated to increase in the southern region of the continent, an overwhelming net loss looks all but imminent.
Humans, as you might have guessed, are one of lions’ biggest problems. Humans poach and hunt perfectly healthy lions in the wild, destroy their habitat and food sources with development projects, and compete for space and resources.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, followed 47 lion populations in Africa, and organized their data by four regions. Lions in West and Central Africa have declined drastically, even disappearing completely from some areas where they once lived. East African lions decreased only slightly, and South African lions saw modest growth.
There are only 20,000 lions in the wild, which is roughly 10 percent of their numbers a century ago. The researchers urged Western nations to aid conservation efforts in regions where oversight is often lax and poaching rules are rarely followed. Humans have driven lions close to extinction, and they are the ones who can help them rebound.