13 Feb

The Silver Lining for the Lions of West Africa


In a press release published last month, Panthera outlined the results of a new report confirming that lions are now Critically Endangered and face extinction across the entire region of West Africa.

Led by Panthera’s Lion Program Survey Coordinator, Dr. Philipp Henschel, the study required a massive survey effort extending across 21 parks and 11 countries over a six year period. The results, unfortunately, are somber: today fewer than 400 lions remain in four isolated populations in West Africa, with only 250 of these being breeding adult lions.

While daunting, the silver lining of this study is the knowledge our scientists now have on where lions persist and the critical areas that Panthera and the international community must target with new resources to allow these populations to recover. Also encouraging, our scientists found that the genetic health of lions in West Africa remains sound enough, with protection from poachers and habitat loss, for these populations to recover.

Panthera, along with our partners from West Africa, the UK, Canada and the United States who contributed to this study, now have a clear picture of the state of lions in West Africa and a roadmap outlining where we must dig in to improve and increase law enforcement efforts protecting these populations.

While in the field, Panthera’s Dr. Henschel found a direct correlation between the amount of funds invested in law enforcement for protected areas and the number of lions existing in those regions – proof that proper investment and effective law enforcement can help save the lions of West Africa.

Donate to Panthera’s Project Leonardo to help West Africa’s lions recover before it’s too late.

Read Panthera’s press release – Lions in West Africa are Critically Endangered.

See photos of lions in West Africa and a map of the region.