People are Taking the Lions’ Share of Africa


Here Kitty Kitty…. We’ve been searching for cats on the African savanna and despite our best kitty calls we can’t find a furry feline anywhere! Today, finding African lions (Pantheraleo)in the wild is a lot tougher then it used to be, as the size of their population has gotten smaller. Over the past 50 years their population has dropped from 100,000 to between 32,000 and 50,000. In fact, while wandering the grasslands looking for a lion you are far more likely to run into another person!

male lion grassland

Huge areas of the African savannah grasslands have been lost as more humans move into the area and develop it for farmland and housing. When we look at satellite images of the African savanna in the 1960’s we can see it spans 13.5 million km2. Today the wild lions in Africa live in an area 3.4 million km2, that’s a 75% loss of habitat over the past 50 years. While lions are disappearing, humans sure aren’t! Populations of humans have exploded in size. From 1950 to 2005 there has been a 325% increase in the number of humans living in Sub-Saharan Africa.

lioness road kenya


With such a big growth in human populations the land left for lions to live on is disappearing at a scary speed, an astonishing 6 million km2 of their habitat has been lost since 2000. What lion habitat that does remain is really broken up, this fragmentation makes it difficult for lions to survive as things like roads, farms and villages keep them from finding prey and mates.

Thankfully lots of organizations are working to create and maintain conservation areas to ensure animals like the African lion have protected land to live on. You can see one of these conservation areas right here on the Wild Wire, Lewa! This conservation area is located in Kenya and its 62,000 acres of land provides a home for animals like rhinos, lions and zebras.

lion family cuddling


Riggio J, A Jacobson, L Dollar, H Bauer, M Becker, A Dickman, P Funston, R Groom, P Henschel, H de Iongh, L Lichtenfeld, and S Pimm (2013). The size of savannah Africa: a lion’s (Pantheraleo) view. Biodiversity Conservation 22:17-35. African lion (Pantheraleo). Accessed March 4, 2013.
Bongaarts J (2009). Human population growth and the demographic transition. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 364:2985-2990.
Zommers Z and DW MacDonald (2012).Protected areas as frontiers for human migration. Conservation Biology 26:547-556.
Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.