Natural History Magazine's latest cover story, 'Leo's Star Sets in the West,' takes an in depth look at the incredibly fragile state of lions in West and Central Africa and the causes that led to these devastating declines. The article features the critical lion conservation work carried out in these regions by Panthera's Lion Program Survey Coordinator, Dr. Philipp Henschel, through lion population surveys from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to Nigeria, and beyond, to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Read the article to learn about Henschel's day-to-day lion conservation research, as well as encounters with poachers, rebel leaders, and more.
Excerpt from “Leo’s Star Sets in the West”
“Although the status of the African lion everywhere is concerning,” says Henschel, “the situation is particularly alarming in West and Central Africa.” As few as 1,000 to 2,850 lions may remain there. The species’ range in West Africa was once more than 1.5 million square miles. Today it’s 52,000 square miles, a nearly 97 percent loss.
An inventory of the lions conducted in 2001 and 2002 revealed that only 450 to 1,300 lions remained in West Africa and 550 to 1,550 in Central Africa: just 8 percent of the estimated total for African lions (Panthera leo leo) across the entire continent. In response to those findings, Henschel and colleagues undertook a new survey from 2006 to 2010 in West and Central Africa’s savannas and woodlands. Working alongside Panthera were scientists affiliated with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Côte d’Ivoire Office of Parks and Reserves, the Nigeria National Park Service, and the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission of Ghana. They searched high and low for lions.”
Read the full article in the May 2013 issue of Natural History Magazine, or online here.
Read Panthera’s press release, 'New Study Reveals Lions are Rapidly Losing Ground in Africa.’
Learn more about Panthera’s Lion Program Survey Coordinator, Dr. Philipp Henschel, and results from his surveys.
Learn more about Panthera’s lion conservation work in Africa through Project Leonardo.