Study: Africa’s vanishing savannahs threaten lions



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Thursday 6 December 2012

Last update 6 December 2012 6:07 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Africa's savannahs and the lions that roam there are disappearing at an alarming rate as ballooning human populations deprive the big cats of their natural habitat, a study released Tuesday showed.
About 75 percent of the continent’s savannahs and two-thirds of the lion population have vanished over the past 50 years, according to researchers at Duke University in North Carolina.
“The word savannah conjures up visions of vast open plains teeming with wildlife,” said Stuart Pimm of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
“But the reality is that massive land-use change and deforestation, driven by rapid human population growth, has fragmented or degraded much of the original savannah.”
Using new satellite data, the researchers were able to estimate that only 32,000 to 35,000 lions now live on Africa’s savannahs, down from nearly 100,000 in 1960.
The situation is particularly dire in West Africa, where human populations have doubled over the past three decades, according to the study, which was published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation.
Fewer than 500 lions remain in the region, spread across eight sites, it said.
The Duke researchers mapped areas still favorable for lions’ survival by using high-resolution satellite imagery from Google Earth, along with human population density data and estimates of lion populations.
Existing maps based on low-resolution satellite imagery show large stretches of intact savannah, but the high-resolution images allowed the team to see that many of those areas are now dotted with small fields and small but widespread human settlements that encroached on the lions’ habitat.
They found only 67 isolated stretches of savannah, defined as areas that receive between approximately 11 to 59 inches (28 to 150 centimeters) of rain annually, across the continent that had low enough human impacts and densities.
And only 10 of those areas were considered “strongholds” where lions had an excellent chance of surviving, many of them located within national parks.
“A 75 percent reduction in extent of African savannah is stunning and grim,” said conservation scientist Thomas Lovejoy, a grants committee chair of the National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative that funded the study.
“It emphasizes the urgency for conservation of these great habitats and their magnificent species like lions.”
The study comes after the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week it was launching a review on whether to list African lions under the Endangered Species Act.
Such a listing would prevent US hunters from bringing lion trophies from Africa back to the United States. Lion hunts are legal in some African countries.
The Asiatic lion was listed as an endangered species under the US law in 1970.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Employees of the Education Office in Al-Daer governorate, Jazan, where seven people were gunned down on Thursday are in a state of shock and perplexed as to what prompted the attacker — a teacher — to take such an extreme step.The teacher, id...
JEDDAH: The campaign to support Syrian refugees with all their needs is being carried out effectively, as per the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman....
RIYADH: The Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs has ordered the allocation of separate sections for female members of municipal councils.This was announced by Jedaie Al-Qahtani of the ministry. “This is in implementation of Clause 107 of the...
DAMMAM: The 9th Saudi Student Conference which is being held on Feb. 13-14 is sponsored by Umm Al-Qura University and hosted by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. It was organized by the Scientific Society for Saudi Students in the...
RIYADH: Over the past 10 years, begging in the Kingdom has increased substantially, with the number of organized gangs of expatriate beggars increasing to 85 percent of the total number of beggars, according to Social Affairs Ministry Majed Al-Qassab...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health said it expects its blood donation drive will received 450,000 milliliters (ml) of blood when the Janadriyah festival ends on Feb. 19.Khalid Ibrahim Zobaie, who supervises the blood donation project, said the drive is i...
JEDDAH: The Shoura Council’s decision to reduce working hours in the private sector from 48 hours to 40 hours per week would result in additional operational costs in the sector due to 30 percent higher wages for expat workers, according to Mansour b...
MADINAH: Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman recently visited a number of ongoing developmental project sites in the Holy City, as part of his efforts to ensure that they meet the set standards and deadlines.During the visit, he said that all the s...
RIYADH: The National Guard Ministry is studying the possibility of having two countries as guests of honor each year instead of one at the Janadriyah festival for culture and heritage, the Kingdom’s most prestigious annual festival.This was revealed...
DAMMAM: The Pakistan International School in Alkhobar hosted their 49th annual prize distribution ceremony to honor outstanding students in the presence of Pakistani Ambassador Manzoor Ul Haq and his wife, Nighat Manzoor.Haq appreciated the efforts o...
DAMMAM: The Weaam Association for Family Care in the Eastern Province has succeeded in addressing more than 700 cases of family disputes during the last one year.Abdulrahman Al-Khudair, Weaam’s director of public delations, said: “The association off...
JEDDAH: The Nakheel mall case has continued to grab the limelight, with a number of lawyers now offering their services to the girl who was roughed up by some Haia members in Riyadh. Some people also expressed, through social media, their support to...
RIYADH: Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh inaugurated this week a campaign tosafeguard Saudi society against bad influences.“The campaign seeks to immunize society in the Kingdom from deviant ideas as well as utter lies and heresies that could...
RIYADH: A Filipino nurse who works at a clinic in Riyadh has been missing for a week, her colleagues has said.According to a co-worker at the clinic, the 43-year-old nurse from from Lamitan town in Basilan province, southern Philippines, wa...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Haj will put in place new measures for issuing Umrah visas for pilgrims from outside the country with the coordination of the Saudi embassies abroad, a local newspaper reported.The new measures will be implemented soon, given...

Stay Connected

Facebook