Project Leonardo seeks to ensure the long-term survival of lions across the African continent by increasing the total lion population by 50% over the next 15 years, to at least 30,000 lions.
The first conservation plan that encompasses the lion’s entire African range, Panthera’s Project Leonardo aims to protect lions in the key lion conservation landscapes that remain, including in and just outside key African national parks, and build or support corridors that guarantee their safe passage. The program’s overall goal is to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 individuals within 15 years.
After identifying Lion Conflict Landscapes, or areas where lions are under the greatest threat, Panthera introduces tools and techniques tailored to specific lion populations and surrounding communities. These measures include mitigating human-lion conflict by working with villagers to implement better animal husbandry techniques, supporting local law enforcement in their efforts to reduce illegal hunting, and sustainably managing legal hunting.
Using high-resolution satellite imagery, surveys, motion-triggered remote camera traps, and other innovative technology, Panthera’s scientists are able to survey and monitor lion populations, helping to identify populations in jeopardy and assess the effectiveness of implemented conservation actions.
Panthera is currently leading or supporting efforts in 15 of the 27 lion range states in Africa, including Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Lions exist in 27 African countries and 1 Asian country. Panthera’s Project Leonardo operates at multiple sites across 15 lion range countries.
Lion Range States: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, United Republic of Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
See lion range map
The State of the Lion
Lions have undergone a catastrophic decline and are on the brink of extinction in all but the largest and best managed national parks.
Just over a century ago, there were more than 200,000 wild lions living in Africa. Today, there are only about 20,000; lions are extinct in 26 African countries and have vanished from over 90 percent of their historic range. Though lions still exist in 27 African countries and one Asian country, only seven countries are known to each contain more than 1,000 lions.
The species is threatened by the illegal bushmeat trade, habitat loss and fragmentation, unsustainable trophy hunting, and conflict with local people due to the real or perceived threat lions pose to livestock.
Lions are currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. In West Africa, the species is now classified as "Critically Endangered.”