Washington: The African lions, across the West African region are on the brink of extinction, according to latest study findings.
The study reveals that there are about 250 adult lions, which now walk the lands of the continent.
The six year long survey report, funded by National Geographic`s Big Cats Initiative (BCI), was initiated by Panthera`s Lion Program Coordinator Dr. Philipp Henschel and a team from West Africa.
The survey covered eleven countries where lions were believed to exist for the past two decades. It has been discovered that the population of these genetically distinct animals is now restricted to 5 countries including Senegal and Nigeria.
The stark fall in the number of lions living in West Africa is the result of ever-growing human population and their need to acquire land, reducing wild-life cover. Also, many pastoralists hunt down lions, fearing the loss of their cattle.
According to recent molecular research, it has been proved that these lions are closely related to the extinct "Barbary Lions" which once roamed North Africa. The research also established their link with the last Asiatic lions surviving in India.
At present there are less than 35,000 lions in Africa and in West Africa alone, the lions reside in a range of about 50,000km.
Taking note of the rapidly decreasing lion population, Dr. Christine Breitenmoser, the co-chair of the IUCN/SCC Cat Specialist Group said that the loss of West African lions would mean losing unique specie, which makes their conservation even more urgent.