West African lions (i.e. a subspecies of lions that are native to western Africa) are now running the risk of becoming extinct sooner than one might expect.
This is because, according to several estimates carried out by conservationists, only 645 genetically distinct such felines are left in the natural habitats in western and central Africa.
As well as this, it looks like this lion subspecies' population in Nigeria has been brought down to just 34 individuals.
One need not necessarily be an expert in matters of conservation and endangered species to realize that these figures basically mean that, soon enough, west African lions will switch from being an endangered species to being an extinct one.
More so given the fact that, for the time being at least, no significant efforts are being made in terms of helping them make a comeback and escape said fate.
Daily Mail reports that Pieter Kat, a wildlife expert presently working with green-oriented organization LionAid, wished to emphasize the fact that, “There has been a catastrophic decline in the populations of lions in Africa, and particularly west Africa. These lions have been neglected for a very long time and do not have adequate protection programs.”
Pieter Kat went on to argue that, “We are currently paying lip service to the conservation needs of a species so greatly important to our cultures, history, and indeed the health of wildlife biodiversity in Africa. Lions are not only an iconic species important to very many people all over the world, but they are also a vital component of African ecosystems.”
As is the case with most other endangered species, the western African lions inhabiting this continent have been brought close to extinction by their losing their natural habitats in favor of humans, by people's hunting their prey and by their being themselves hunted.
Thus, some conservationists have argued that, as tiger bones become ever more difficult to come by, poachers are turning towards lions and are selling their bones as a trustworthy alternative for people who are in the business of manufacturing and selling traditional Asian medicine.