Kenya's Lions Could Be Wiped Out in Just 20 Years, Maybe Less - UPDATED

lion in kenya photo

photo: Frédérc Salien via flickr

We just found out that Pandas could be extinct within 2-3 generations, not exactly good news -- and now it seems Kenya's lions may soon be gone as well. Reuters reports that the Kenya Wildlife Service says lions could be gone from the country within 20 years:The prime causes are the usual suspects: Habitat destruction, conflict with humans, and climate change. Kenya's current lion population is about 2,000 individuals, down from 2,749 in 2002.

KWS issued a statement saying,

The trend in lion population decline is disturbing and every effort needs to be made to ensure that Kenya either stabilizes its population at the current 2000 lions or increases the numbers to an ecologically acceptable level.

Estimates of the African lion population place it in the low 20,000s -- down from perhaps 200,000 twenty years ago -- spread out over more than 30 nations. The IUCN lists the African lion as vulnerable.

UPDATE - Conservationists Say KWS Estimate is Optimistic
New Scientist is quoting Laurence Frank, a wildlife biologist from UC Berkeley, who think KWS is understating the severity of the problem:

Lions are disappearing so fast from Kenya, as well as the rest of Africa, that I think they will disappear [from Kenya] in less than 10 years if action is not taken very quickly," says Frank, who runs several lion conservation projects in the country.

Frank says "vast areas" of Kenya which used to have lions 20 years ago are devoid of wildlife. The cause: Humans -- "Predators have been poisoned and speared, herbivores have been snared for meat, and the rangelands themselves have been destroyed by massive overgrazing by domestic stock."

via: Reuters
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