Principle Threats

Pressures on land use from increasing human populations leading to continued fragmentation of the remaining suitable habitat coupled with indiscriminate killing in defense of life and livestock and prey base depletion are recognized as being the principle causes for their decline.

Human-lion conflict is a major threat to lion populations in Benin.  Sogbohossou et al. (2011), report that lions are responsible for 18% of livestock losses from the villages around Pendjari Biosphere Reserve in northern Benin.

Chardonnet et al. (2010) note that resentment towards national parks means villagers deliberately intrude through the boundaries to allow their livestock to graze.  This inevitable conflict with lions raises the possibility of lethal encounters.

Lions are also subject to poisoning from pesticides in the water.  The pesticide content of watering holes in Benin was found to be significantly higher that levels recommended by the World Health Organization. 

Chardonnet P, Soto B, Fritz H, Crosmary W, Drouet-Hoguet N, Mesochina P, Pellerin M, Mallon D, Bakker, L, Boulet H, Lamarque F (2010) Managing the conflicts between people and lion: Review and insights from the literature and field experience.  Wildlife Management Working Paper 13 (pdf)

Sogbohossou E A (2011) Lions of West Africa: Ecology of lion (Panthera leo, Linnaeus 1975) populations and human-lion conflicts in Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, North Benin. (pdf)

Trade in Lions

Number of wild source lions estimated in international trade, 1999-2008:  25
Average annual wild source trade as percent of population size*:  1.3%
* Used average of Chardonnet (2002) and Bauer & van der Merwe (2004) studies

“Between 1999 and 2008, 47 lion specimens were exported from Benin.  This included 11 skins and 14 trophies as well as six live animals. The six live animals were from captive-bred sources but all remaining specimens were from wild sources. All exported specimens originated in Benin. This represents at least 25 wild lions. France was the main importer of trophies for personal or hunting trophy purposes, while the U.S. was the main importer of the skins and skin pieces for scientific purposes.  Bauer et al. (2003) stated that, considering the small populations and their isolation, sustainable off-take in West Africa and Central Africa was “hardly possible”. Thus, it is of concern that 25 wild source lions were exported from Benin during the decade; this is 12.8 percent of the population (25 of 195). Annualized, these exports represent 1.3 percent of the population.”

Place J, Flocken J, Travers W, Waterland S, Telecky T, Kennedy C, Goyenechea A (2011) Petition to list the African Lion (Panthera leo leo) as endangered pursuant to the US Endangered Species Act.  The International Fund for Animal Welfare, The Born Free Foundation, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, Defenders of Wildlife (pdf)

Lions in Culture

Ayogwiri and the Benin Connection (html)

There was a great hunter in Ekperi called Agiana who married a Queen called Eleuma. When Eleuma became heavy with child, her husband went on a hunting expedition and killed a lion. In the tradition of Edo people it was customary for any hunter who killed a lion to submit the skin to the Oba [the ruler] of Benin. The clan head of Ekperi told Agiana to skin the lion and send the skin to Oba.  Agiana said his wife was about to give birth and if he travelled to the Oba he might not return at all or it will take him a long time to return, so he would like to see his child.

This sparked off a sharp disagreement between Agiana and the clan head.  So Agiana dammed the consequences and was the first hunter in history to have challenged the custom.  He tied a rope on the neck on the lion and took his wife and his’ brothers, Imiegba, Okpekpe, Itsukwi and Imiakebu, and dragged the lion out of Ekperi .  As Agiana dragged it along, Eleuma ‘went into serious pains of labour and when the pains became unbearable, Agiana refused to move further and he took her with the lion to a lake called Ikekhegbe.  He butchered the lion there and used part of it to prepare pepper soup for his wife. His brothers were afraid that they were too close to Ekperi and might be found out easily by the Oba’s police so they left Agiana and his wife to their fate in spite of the incessant appeals by Agiana not to leave them alone. God on their side, the woman put to bed a baby boy. After many months, Imiegba, Okpekpe, Itsukwi and Imiakebu came to find out what had happened to Agiana and his wife, and they met him cultivating the land by the lakeside and they asked him, "what sex of child did your wife put to bed" and he replied them in polite anger - "Avhiugwi Omoavhia".

The lion which led Agiana out of Ekperi is the strongest animal in the forest and yet, it obeys the laws of the forest. A lion does not kill because it can kill. It only kills when it is hungry and it is the size of the animal it kills today that will determine when it will kill again. The lion does not live in disobedience and kill at random, otherwise, he would have killed all the animals in the forest at once and dies in hunger too because he will not have fresh meat to feed on nor fresh blood to drink. So it is not all you have power to do that you do. You must allow all the laws of nature to guide you. There is no profession without guiding laws. Nothing exists without guiding laws.

Governing Body

Government of Benin
Ministry of Environment & the Protection of Nature (MEPN)
Government of Benin

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