West African Lions

There are a small number of lions that still live in West Africa. The population is in steep decline and is now only found reliably in one protected area with small remaining populations in a few others. The last significant population is found in a transboundary protected area between Niger Benin and Burkina Faso. This consists of Arli National park in South East Burkina Faso, Pendjari National Park in Benin and Singou Reserve. This group of protected areas is collectively called the WAP complex (W-Arli-Pendjari).

The only other significant population of West African lions is in Bénoué National Park complex in Cameroon where there is a further 200 or so. Beyond these populations are well under 100 and are therefore functionally extinct without significant and regular human intervention.

This animal is interesting as the West African lion does not appear to have had any contact with East or Southern African lions for as much as 300,000 years and are more closely related to the now extinct Barbary lions of North Africa and the Asiatic lions. As such it is highly important to protect this species and help it recover in places such as Nigeria.

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