Species Status Overview

Estimating African lion (Panthera leo) populations with any accuracy is difficult [1] and involves many uncertainties. While the three main surveys to date all used different methods [2-4], it is widely accepted that lion populations in Africa are in serious decline [2, 5 – 8].  The IUCN states “A species population reduction of approximately 30% is suspected over the past two decades (approximately three lion generations)” [5]. Such declines appear to be continuing.

Lions are listed as Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II and are regarded as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List [Version 3.1 2001].  The criteria for classification being:

An observed, estimated, inferred or suspected population size reduction of ≥ 30% over the last 10 years or three generations, whichever is the longer, where the reduction or its causes may not have ceased OR may not be understood OR may not be reversible, based on:

(a) direct observation
(b) an index of abundance appropriate to the taxon
(c) a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and/or quality of habitat
(d) actual or potential levels of exploitation

THE MOST RECENT PUBLISHED ESTIMATE OF LION POPULATION SIZE AND DISTRIBUTION

Source: Riggio J, Jacobson A, Dollar L, Bauer H, Becker M, Dickman A, Funston P, Groom R, Henschel P, de Iongh H, Lichtenfeld L, Pimm S (2012) The size of savannah Africa: a lion's (Panthera leo) view.  Biodiversity Conservation Dec 12 DOI 10.1007/s10531-012-0381-4 (html)

REGION LION POPULATION 
ESTIMATE
Northern Africa 0
West Africa 480 - 525
Central Africa 2,267 - 2,419
East Africa 18,308 - 19,972
Southern Africa 11,160 - 12,036
TOTAL 32,260 - 34,907

Lion population 2012