Nearly half of all of Africa's lion populations could face extinction in the next 40 years if conservation measures aren't changed, according to a new study.
The study, published today (March 6) in the journal Ecology Letters, found that lion populations that were fenced into conservation areas rebounded in recent years, whereas lions in open preserves were challenged by prey loss and predation by human neighbors.
"Lions in fenced reserves tend to do much better, they're achieving much better populations," said Luke Hunter, a conservation biologist with Panthera, an organization that works to protect endangered big cats. "It's also cheaper to achieve those outcomes."
Big cats Lion populations have been shrinking across Africa as they rub up against growing human populations. Herding cultures, such as the Maasai or the Zulu, may convert wild habitat to grazing land, thereby reducing the population of natural prey for the majestic cats. So instead of going after a zebra, lions will hunt people's livestock (and occasionally kill people).