African Lion Database Annual Project Report April 2020

Table of Contents

About the Project

It is generally understood that our knowledge of the status and trends in African Lion (Panthera leo) numbers is quite poor, and the collective ability of governments and the wider conservation community to identify priorities or to assess the impacts of interventions, is limited.

This can largely be attributed to the lack of a single repository of information on lion abundance, status, trends, and fine-scale distribution. Information that currently exists is often siloed and therefore of limited conservation value.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) was awarded a grant from the Lion Recovery Fund and National Geographic in 2018 for a project to establish such a database and work began on this in October 2018.

The African Lion Database (ALD) Project is endorsed by the IUCN Cat Specialist Group (CatSG) of the Species Survival Commission, and the goal of this project is to create a database that consolidates reliable data on the population and distribution of lions across the continent. With this database, we aim to provide a basic platform from which to assess priorities, to measure conservation progress, and to monitor trends in lion populations and their threats in Africa.

Brief Update

The African Lion Database (ALD) has been capturing and recording lion related data for the last 16 months.

In the last year, we have been productive and substantial progress has been made in recent months. The distribution mapping component of the project is well underway with ~25% of lion areas included in the ALD with associated references.

In the last quarter, we have more than doubled the number of population records, with ~24% of lion areas having population estimates in the ALD.

Your Contribution to Lion Conservation

Through your data submission to the ALD you are contributing to lion conservation in the following ways:

  1. Assisting the continuous assessment of the status of lion populations
  2. Informing range countries and national and international institutions about the status of lions
  3. Disclosing the reliability of information and identify knowledge gaps
  4. Continuously improving the monitoring of lions, and conservation planning and resourcing for the species.

Your help is still needed

While we are making progress on the ALD, we still need your help. Please continue to submit data and reports on lion distribution, population and mortality (more details on page 2). Data templates are available from the ALD coordinator (

If you can recommend people or organisations whom we can contact that are able to assist with data, please let us know. Please continue to spread awareness for this exciting project that will aid in the conservation of this iconic African species.

Encourage people to contribute their research, and share information about the project

Data in the ALD

1) ALD Distribution

To date, there are an estimated 215 protected areas, private reserves and concessions included in the ALD distribution map (Figure 1). We have also received ~8,349 ad hoc distribution points that have been included in the ALD that will contribute to creating range maps.

While we are making good progress, there are still significant data gaps in the ALD. These gaps are evident in the “Lion Range_ GCLA_2019” layer shown in Figure 1.

Using the distribution map from the Guidelines for the Conservation of Lions in Africa (GCLA), it is estimated that approximately 25% of lion range is included in the ALD.

2) ALD Population

To assess the trends in lion populations throughout their range and determine the current population status we require accurate population data. In the last quarter, an extensive literature review has been done to search for lion population data.

The ALD currently includes an estimated 10,360 lions. This will obviously increase with more areas being included in the ALD; only 25% of lion range has associated population figures included at present.

3) ALD Mortality Data

In late 2019, we began the process of capturing anthropogenic lion mortality events in the ALD. This was done in an effort to record the number of human-induced mortalities and identify threats to lion across the continent.

This task has a specific focus on the potential trade (both international and local) in lion body parts (e.g. paws, claws and bones). Currently, there are a total of 104 records in the ALD.

The ALD is an ongoing project and to remain as up-to-date as possible, please continue to submit your data that has yet to be included in the ALD. Data templates for population, distribution and mortality data are available for your use.

Figure 1: Current areas (n = 215) included in the African Lion Database shown in green. These areas all have associated population data and suitable references.

Exciting Findings

In the last year of the ALD, we have received exciting out-of-range records of lions in areas where they were previously thought to have been extirpated (Figure 2).

  1. Two male lions were discovered for the first time at Mpem and Djim National Park in southern Cameroon by a team led by Dr Hans Bauer of University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) – supported by Born Free, the German development cooperation GIZ, and Cameroon authorities. Read more:
  2. A male lion has been resident in Nyika National Park in Malawi and was reported by Central Wilderness Safaris.
  3. We also received data from Luando Reserve, in Angola, where a small pride of lions were seen. This is the first evidence of a resident lion pride in the Luando Reserve in many decades that are breeding successfully.

We developed an ALD contributors logo that has been shared with organisations and individuals that have contributed data to the ALD. We encourage the proud use of this logo on organisation websites, LinkedIn and other profiles, email signature, reference documents, Facebook pages, CVs etc.

ALD Video and Lion Estimates

We recently gave a webinar on the ALD and recent updates on lion population and distribution for the Endangered Wildlife Trust “Wild Chat Series”.

ALD Facebook Page

A Facebook page for the ALD has been set up to share information and results from the project and will hopefully also encourage additional information.

Figure 2: Exciting out-of-range records that have been received. The ALD serves as a platform to save and consolidate this data. Without the ALD, there would have been a risk that these records could have been forgotten and not included in species population and distribution assessments

Some of the organisations that have contributed significant amounts of data to the ALD (in alphabetical order):

Previous Update