|Scientific Name:||Panthera leo|
|Species Authority:||(Linnaeus, 1758)|
|Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:|
Felis leo Linnaeus, 1758
|Taxonomic Notes:||Based on genetic analysis (O'Brien et al. 1987, Dubach et al. 2005), two subspecies are recognized:
African lion Panthera leo leo (Linnaeus, 1758)
Asiatic lion Panthera leo persica (Meyer, 1826)
In their review in Mammalian Species, Haas et al. (2005) recognized six African subspecies, although these were not subject to analysis. Bertola et al. (2011) described regional genetic differences, with West and Central African lions more closely related to Asiatic lions than to the southern and East African lions.
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Vulnerable A2abcd ver 3.1|
|Assessor(s):||Bauer, H., Nowell, K. & Packer, C.|
|Reviewer(s):||Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. & Hoffmann, M.|
A species population reduction of approximately 30% is suspected over the past two decades (= approximately three Lion generations). The causes of this reduction (primarily indiscriminate killing in defense of life and livestock, coupled with prey base depletion: Bauer 2008), are unlikely to have ceased. This suspected reduction is based on direct observation; appropriate indices of abundance; a decline in area of occupation, extent of occupation and habitat quality; and actual and potential levels of exploitation.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Lion conservation community works in the context of four regions: West, Central, East and Southern. The Lion population is classified as regionally Endangered in West Africa (Bauer and Nowell 2004). It is isolated from Lion populations of Central Africa, with little or no exchange of breeding individuals (Chardonnet 2002, Bauer and Van Der Merwe 2004). The number of mature individuals in West Africa is estimated by two separate recent surveys at 850 (Bauer and Van Der Merwe 2004) and 1,163 (Chardonnet 2002). Both estimates are well below the Endangered criterion level of 2,500. Lions in West Africa are grouped into three isolated subpopulations by Chardonnet (2002) and approximately seven by the African Lion Working Group (Bauer and Van Der Merwe 2004). Chardonnet's (2002) three subpopulations consist of 18 different individual populations, between which there may be some interchange of individuals, although this is unknown. There is disagreement over the size of the largest individual population in West Africa: the African Lion Working Group (Bauer and Van Der Merwe 2004) estimates 100 Lions in Burkina Faso's Arly-Singou ecosystem, while Chardonnet (2002) estimates 404 for the same area (mean 250).
|Range Description:||Lions are found in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2005-2006 the Wildlife Conservation Society and the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group undertook an extensive collaborative exercise to map and assess current lion range in sub-Saharan Africa (IUCN 2006a,b; Bauer 2008). Extent of occurrence is estimated at over 4.5 million km², 22% of historical range. Most lion range is in eastern and southern Africa (77%). Current Lion status is still unknown over large parts of Africa, 7.6 million km².
The Lion formerly ranged from northern Africa through southwest Asia (where it disappeared from most countries within the last 150 years), west into Europe, where it apparently became extinct almost 2,000 years ago, and east into India (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Today, the only remainder of this once widespread population is a single isolated population of the Asiatic Lion P. leo persica in the 1,400 km² Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Lions are extinct in North Africa, having perhaps survived in the High Atlas Mountains up to the 1940s (Nowell and Jackson 1996, West and Packer in press).
The map (provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society) shows Lion range as derived from mapping workshops associated with two regional Lion conservation strategies. In West and Central Africa, known and probable range are shown (IUCN 2006a). In Eastern and Southern Africa, known, occasional and possible range are shown (IUCN 2006b). Both strategies are available online from the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group website http://www.catsg.org/catsgportal/bulletin-board/20_bulletin-board/home/index_en.htm
Native:Angola (Angola); Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Ethiopia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; India; Kenya; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Regionally extinct:Afghanistan; Algeria; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Gambia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Lesotho; Libya; Mauritania; Morocco; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; Sierra Leone; Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey; Western Sahara
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
There have been few efforts in the past to estimate the number of Lions in Africa. Myers (1975) wrote, "Since 1950, their [Lion] numbers may well have been cut in half, perhaps to as low as 200,000 in all or even less". Later, Myers (1986) wrote, "In light of evidence from all the main countries of its range, the Lion has been undergoing decline in both range and numbers, often an accelerating decline, during the past two decades". In the early 1990s, IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group members made educated "guesstimates" of 30,000 to 100,000 for the African Lion population (Nowell and Jackson 1996).
|Habitat and Ecology:||
The Lion has a broad habitat tolerance, absent only from tropical rainforest and the interior of the Sahara desert (Nowell and Jackson 1996). There are records of Lion to elevations of more than 4,000 m in the Bale Mountains and on Kilimanjaro (West and Packer in press). Although Lions drink regularly when water is available, they are capable of obtaining their moisture requirements from prey and even plants (such as the tsama melon in the Kalahari desert), and thus can survive in very arid environments. Medium- to large-sized ungulates (including antelopes, zebra and wildebeest) are the bulk of their prey, but Lions will take almost any animal, from rodents to a rhino. They also scavenge, displacing other predators (such as the Spotted Hyaena) from their kills.
The main threats to Lions are indiscriminate killing (primarily as a result of retaliatory or pre-emptive killing to protect life and livestock) and prey base depletion. Habitat loss and conversion has led to a number of populations becoming small and isolated (Bauer 2008).
P. leo is included in CITES Appendix II; the Endangered Asiatic Lion subspecies P. leo persica is included in CITES Appendix I.
|Citation:||Bauer, H., Nowell, K. & Packer, C. 2012. Panthera leo. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 September 2014.|