The Lion in West Africa Is Critically Endangered

09 January 2014

Philipp Henschel, Lauren Coad, Cole Burton, Beatrice Chataigner, Andrew Dunn, David MacDonald, Yohanna Saidu, Luke T. B. Hunter

Published: January 08, 2014 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083500


The African lion has declined to <35,000 individuals occupying 25% of its historic range. The situation is most critical for the geographically isolated populations in West Africa, where the species is considered regionally endangered. Elevating their conservation significance, recent molecular studies establish the genetic distinctiveness of West and Central African lions from other extant African populations. Interventions to save West African lions are urgently required. However formulating effective conservation strategies has been hampered by a lack of data on the species' current distribution, status, and potential management deficiencies of protected areas (PAs) harboring lions. Our study synthesized available expert opinion and field data to close this knowledge gap, and formulate recommendations for the conservation of West African lions.