African lion species:
Affected by: Habitat loss and fragmentation , Illegal wildlife trade , Human wildlife conflict , Extractives
Powerful and majestic, the king of the beasts has no natural predators. But unthinkably, African lion numbers have plummeted by over 40% in the last three generations, due to loss of living space and conﬂict with people.
Lions are the most sociable of all big cats. They live in groups called prides, which usually consist of related females and their cubs. Dominant males, with their flowing manes (a sign of virility), fight to maintain breeding rights.
Three-quarters of African lion populations are in decline. With only around 20,000 in the wild, they’re now officially classified as ‘vulnerable’.
Where African lions roam
African lions used to be spread across most of the continent, but now are only found in sub-Saharan Africa, with 80% in eastern or southern Africa. Three of the five largest populations are in Tanzania. Lions have disappeared from 12 sub-Saharan countries in recent decades.
Why African lions are important
Lions are top predators in their environment, whether that’s grasslands, desert or open woodland. It means they play a crucial role in keeping a healthy balance of numbers among other animals, especially herbivores like zebra and wildebeest – which in turn influences the condition of grasslands and forests.
By protecting a lion’s landscape, we’re helping the whole area to thrive, which doesn’t just benefit wildlife but the people who rely on local natural resources too.