The conservation status of Africa’s 20 largest carnivores has been reviewed in a 200-page document compiled by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), with lions, cheetahs, wild dogs and Ethiopian wolves all making the ‘most vulnerable’ list. All of these carnivores have lost more than 75 percent of their historical home range, with lions having vanished from 82 percent of their historic distribution, cheetahs 75 percent and wild dogs 89 percent.
Ethiopian wolves are now only found in two percent of the area where they previously roamed. Other threatened species include the leopard, spotted hyena and the tropical forest-dwelling golden cat. Two species identified as being in need of more research are the aardwolf and honey badger, as these are some of the least-known carnivores. The need for more research and urgent conservation action in African countries that are not in southern or eastern Africa was also acknowledged.
Reasons for the decline of large carnivores, such as lions, include loss of habitat, conflict with humans and loss of prey species. Surprisingly, some species including the African civet and various jackal species have prospered with humans, by preying on livestock and poultry and being adaptable enough to live in a variety of habitats.
WCS’s Global Carnivore Program head Luke Hunter commented, “Africa is world famous for its variety of carnivore species from lions to hyenas. These animals play a key role in the health of ecosystems and represent all that is wild about Africa. This report lays out a framework for conservationists to better understand both the threats facing these animals, and the conservation action needed to ensure their survival.”