African lions are creatures of brawn and beauty when gazed upon in their natural habitat. The king of the safari can protect itself out in the wild against a potential outside animal threat, but according to researchers across a trio of continents the biggest threat to the lion is its shrinking habitat.
The journal of Biodiversity and Conservation published a study stating that the savannah where the African lions live has dramatically reduced in size, by 75 percent, over the past half-century. The species survival has been threatened as the population has declined from 100,000 to roughly 32,000 over the past 50 years. The dramatic analysis provides a clear picture of where the animals now live and how major land-use changes and population growth have put them in jeopardy, as documented in a Washington Post article. West African lions have experienced the greatest decline in population with only as few as 500 left in the region.
“It’s a shock,” said Stuart Pimm, a Duke University professor for conservation ecology to the Washington Post. “Savannah Africa has been massively reduced. . . . As [people] moved in, lions have been hunted out.”
The Epoch Times reported that according to researchers the shrinking lion population is directly due to an increase in farming and development over that half-century span – with around 6,000 lions presently in population centers with a high risk of going extinct.
“The word savannah conjures up visions of vast open plains teeming with wildlife. But the reality is that massive land-use change and deforestation, driven by rapid human population growth, has fragmented or degraded much of the original savannah,” Professor Pimm said in a statement detailed by the Epoch Times online. “Only 25 percent remains of an ecosystem that once was a third larger than the continental United States.”