There is hope for the West African Lion; World Wildlife Day 2023 throws up pleasant surprise

‘Florence’, a 9-10 year-old lioness, has been photographed and video graphed together with her third litter of three cubs

Florence and her cubs. Photo: Panthera/DPN/Everatt Florence and her cubs. Photograph: Panthera/DPN/Everatt

World Wildlife Day 2023 threw up a nice shock for the Critically Endangered West African lion. Panthera, an organisation working for wild felid conservation globally, together with Senegal’s Division of Nationwide Parks (DPN) launched footage and photos of a West African lioness and her three cubs as they nurse, play, and feed in Senegal’s Niokolo Koba Nationwide Park (NKNP).

The high-definition movies and pictures have been captured with distant digicam traps in time for World Wildlife Day March 3, an announcement by Panthera stated. They characteristic ‘Florence,’ a 9 to 10-year-old GPS-collared lioness that scientists consider has now given start to a few litters — 9 cubs in whole — since 2021.

The lioness has contributed roughly a 3rd of the park’s lion inhabitants and is now thought-about a ‘matriarch’.

Florence or Flo was the first lion in Senegal – and only lioness out of six individuals – to be collared in 2021.

There was a scare after two years when her collar stopped functioning final month. It was feared that she had been killed by poachers, a male lion or a buffalo.

However after an intensive search which concerned inserting digicam traps within the nationwide park, it was revealed that Florence had been denning. She had taken refuge in a patch of dense forest to ship her litter of three cubs. 

Lions of the west

At present, simply 120-374 West African lions are estimated to stay within the wild, with their historic vary having shrunk by 99 per cent, in keeping with Panthera.

Lions have been lately categorised into two subspecies: Panthera leo leo or ‘northern lion’ of west Africa, north Africa, West Asia and India and Panthera leo melanochaita or the ‘southern lion’, that inhabits japanese and southern Africa.

The West African or Senegalese lion is genetically distinct from the lions of southern and japanese Africa and a part of the Northern lion subspecies. It has a skinny mane and a lanky physique, in keeping with Panthera.

The lion is the official image of Senegal and the nationwide soccer workforce mascot, together with being highlighted within the nation’s anthem.

West African lions have suffered notably dramatic inhabitants declines on account of unlawful searching of the species’ prey, poaching for the unlawful wildlife commerce, direct killing over livestock depredation and lack of habitat.

In 2011, the lion inhabitants within the UNESCO World Heritage website NKNP was 10-15 people. It has risen to 30 at the moment on account of persistent anti-poaching and scientific monitoring efforts.

The 30 lions in NKNP embrace the park’s first lion coalition, shaped by three males, who’re Florence’s cubs. The Panthera assertion referred to as this an particularly encouraging signal of lion restoration, as such items are shaped solely when numbers are excessive sufficient to warrant competitors between males.

Scientists from the organisation estimate that NKNP can assist 180-240 lions. They shaped a partnership with the DPN in 2017. The aim is to extend NKNP’s lion inhabitants to 50 by 2025 and 100 lions by 2030.

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