With lion numbers halving in the last two decades, and the popular predator disappearing from more than 80 percent of its former home range, the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation and Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit are currently engaged in research that aims to fill in the gaps in scientific knowledge of lion numbers in Africa.
A recent conference on lions in southern Africa identified the main threats to lion populations as loss of suitable habitat, a reduction in the lion's wild prey base and humanlion conflicts. Africa's lion population is estimated to number somewhere between 23,000 and 39,000.
The joint research initiative has developed a database that keeps a record of human-lion conflict incidences, the use and trade of lion body parts, and lion hunting (both legal and illegal) around Africa. The information will be used to map the location and scale of lion killings and trade across the continent.
Research assistant Penny Morris is on the lookout for more data of this nature, and is appealing to readers of the Kruger Park Times to send her any information they may have on the subject. "Our end goal is to produce data that will allow us and others to objectively prioritize the allocation of funding to areas where maximum benefit can be gained for conservation of the species and to highlight hotspots of conflict with humans and livestock." Penny can be contacted at email@example.com or called on +44 1403 240 170.
A petition was submitted by the The Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA to the United States Secretary of the Interior, calling on him to list the African lion as endangered on the Endangered Species Act (ESA ). As of November 2012 the U.S Fish and Wildlife service is determining whether the species call for such protection.