The Last Lions (Panthera Leo)
Currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, lion populations continue to plummet across Africa. In some parts of the continent, this species are now classified as “Critically Endangered”.
The lion population in Africa has been reduced by half since the early 1950s. As many as 200,000 once roamed the planet. Now fewer than 20,000 remain in all of Africa. Of the 27 African countries and one Asian country where lion are still found, only seven of these countries are known to each contain more than 1,000 lions.
Habitat loss and fragmentation, unsustainable trophy hunting, illegal trade in bushmeat, and conflict with local people due to real or perceived threat that lions pose to livestock, are some of the major threats that remaining lion populations face.
In recent times, captive breeding and “canned hunting” has become one of the biggest threats facing this species. Approximately 1,000 captive-bred, hand-reared lions were killed in South Africa last year – fueling a multi-million dollar international industry. It is estimated that there are currently between 6,000 and 8,000 predators still in captivity – mostly living in appalling conditions.