Conservationists writing in a recent issue of Ecology Journal suggest that large tracts of land inhabited by African lions should be ringed in fencing in order to protect them from humans and prevent further population decline. Preserves in South Africa and other areas already employ fencing, but the authors — many of them lion biologists — say it’s time to apply it to all areas where lions roam and hunt. The study used data from 11 countries to compare costs of managing fenced and unfenced habitats along with lion population and density.
What’s the Big Idea?
Without some sort of drastic measure, say the authors, half of the current lion population could be extinct in the next 20 to 40 years. 30,000 lions now live in only 25 percent of their original natural habitats, and the threat from humans is greatly increased in unfenced areas compared to fenced areas. Luke Hunter, president of the wild cat conservation group Panthera, says that the crisis is severe enough to warrant this action: “No one wants to resort to putting any more fences around Africa’s marvelous wild areas, but without massive and immediate increases in the commitment to lion conservation, we may have little choice.”