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.

Habitat Loss

Eighty percent of lions’ natural habitat is estimated to have disappeared (Chardonnet et al. 2010).  Increasing transhumant livestock husbandry is believed to have the most significant negative impact on conservation efforts.

Trophy Hunting

Sogbohossou (2011) reports that the lion population in Pendjari, as well as other hunting areas of Burkina Faso, are particularly vulnerable to trophy hunting.


Lions may also be poisoned by contaminated drinking water.  Chardonnet et al. (2010) report the high pesticide content found in watering holes in Burkina Faso.    Furthermore they may also be contaminated by the pesticide content of their prey. 

Chardonnet et al (2005) reports annual poisonings of lions with strychnine.  Between 1970-1972, 55 lions were poisoned this way. 

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)

Chardonnet P, Fritz H, Zorzi N, Féron E (1995) Current important of traditional hunting and major contrasts in wild meat consumption in sub-saharan Africa.  In J A Bissonette, P R Krausman (eds) Integrating People and Wildlife for a Sustainable Future.  Proceedings of the first international wildlife management congress.  Bethseda, MD, USA, the Wildlife Society

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

Hunting lions is permitted in Burkina Faso

Number of wild source lions estimated in international trade, 1999-2008:  134
Average annual wild source trade as percent of population size*:  4.9%
* Used average of Chardonnet (2002) and Bauer & van der Merwe (2004) studies

“Between 1999 and 2008, 134 wild source lion trophies were exported from Burkina Faso for either hunting trophy or personal purposes.  Analysis revealed lions were not exported from other sources or for other purposes, and all originated in Burkina Faso. This represents 134 wild lions. The largest importer was France (104 of 134 or 77.6 percent) although the U.S. also imported some of these. Bauer and colleagues stated that, considering the small populations and their isolation, sustainable off-take in West Africa and Central Africa was “hardly possible” (Bauer et al., 2003). Thus, it is of concern that 134 wild source lions were exported from Burkina Faso during the decade; this is 49 percent of the population (134 of 272).  Annualized, these exports represent 4.9 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

"La Place du Grand Lyon" is a lion monument to symbolize the relationship between Burkina Faso’s capital (Ouagadougou) and Lyon in France.  The monument is situated near the French cultural centre, George Melies.

The Lions Market is There - A children’s song from Burkina Faso (html)

The lions market is there,
But nobody will be there, for the lions are there.
The lions market is there,
But nobody will be there, for the lions are there.

The hyenas market is there,
But nobody will be there, for the lions are there.
The hyenas market is there,
But nobody will be there, for the lions are there.

The Hare and the Lion – A story from Burkina Faso

One day, the hare set fire to the bush.  Unfortunately, the fire reached the lions’ children.  The lion promised to give a buffalo to the one who had set fire to the bush.  The hare went to inform the hyena about this. 

“My dear hyena, the lion wants to see to the one who burned the bush today, so that he can offer him a buffalo!”  The hyena went to find the lion: “My dear lion, it appears you are looking for the one who set the bush on fire?” 

The lion said yes.  The hyena said that she was the one.  The lion replied:  “Oh really?  So it was you who set fire to the bush?”  The hyena continued to say yes.  So, the lion set off and asked her to follow him. 

A little farther on the lion asked again:  “Who burned this place, here?”  “I’m the one who burned all of that” the hyena replied.  The lion continued his walk with the hyena. 

A little farther on, the lion asked his question again:  “Who burned this place here?”  “Didn’t I already tell you that I am the one who burned the whole area?”  said the hyena with some annoyance.  They kept walking.   When they came to a small tree called a bagênd, the lion asked her once more:  “Who burned this area?”  “I already told you that I am the one who burned all that you see” said the hyena. 

The lion walked around the small tree behind which were his dead cubs.  He asked the hyena: “Who burned this area?”  “No it wasn’t me.  The fires got mixed up.  I’m not the one who set the fire here” said the hyena.  The lion seized her and cut off her paws.  Even today, when the lion finds the hyena he cuts off her paws; he doesn’t kill her.

Alain-Joseph Sissao (2010) Folktales from the Moose of Burkina Faso.  Langaa RPCIG

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