Lion Population Is Dwindling Along With Its Habitat

A new report indicates that more than 75 percent of savannah normally used by lions has been lost over the last 50 years due to increased human land development.

What's the Latest Development?


A Duke University report published in this week's Biodiversity and Conservation reveals that the amount of African savannah that traditionally served as home to lions -- an area that was once a third larger than the US -- has, over the last 50 years, dropped to about a quarter of its size. The researchers used Google Earth's satellite imagery to examine land across the continent, looking for open savannah where lions would reside as well as pockets of human population. According to the data, only 67 regions remain where there might be significant lion communities, and of those, just 15 were believed to contain at least 500 lions.

What's the Big Idea?

Lions fare a little better in eastern and southern Africa, where tourism spurs governments to protect them more closely. This isn't the case in western Africa, where it was estimated that fewer than 500 lions remain across eight identified regions. Co-author Philipp Henschel says that governments in that area have little incentive to ensure their survival and will need help in the form of "significant foreign assistance [to aid] in stabilizing remaining populations until sustainable local conservation efforts can be developed."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice
popular

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less