Senegal’s Department of National Parks (DPN) and US-based wild cat conservation organisation Panthera, have collectively fitted six critically endangered West African lions with collars fitted with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in the nation’s Niokolo Koba National Park (NKNP), in accordance to an announcement.
The GPS collars have been fitted to present essential data concerning the species, which is down to simply 250 in the wild, though NKNP’s lion inhabitants has doubled in the final decade.
A workforce made up of members from either side labored nightly over three months in 2021 and 2022 to observe, lure and efficiently collar the six lions in the 9,000 sq km park.
Read: ‘Barbary lion reintroduction in north Africa is possible but needs long-term plans’
The collared people additionally embrace a ‘coalition’ of three male lions. This, in accordance to the assertion, is a really encouraging signal since male lions kind such teams solely when numbers are excessive sufficient to warrant competitors.
The workforce additionally collared a wholesome lioness in her prime.
They additionally encountered a lioness who was too younger to collar however was wounded due to porcupine quills caught in her face that had prevented feeding for probably a month and would have resulted in her imminent demise. The feminine was captured and the quills have been eliminated.
The GPS has begun to reveal essential data. For occasion, it has proven that the lions frequent a selected area of the park. Anti-poaching measures can now be directed to this area.
It has additionally been revealed that lions in the park desire massive ungulates (hooved animals) as prey, which suggests these too want safety.
The assertion added that stringent safety efforts had helped herbivore populations of Roan antelope and African buffalo rebound in the park, which signalled hope for the lions.
But the GPS has highlighted worrying elements too. It has revealed a low dispersal drive, indicating that competitors amongst male lions is stunted and suggesting that lion densities in the park are nonetheless far under their potential.
Lions have been lately categorized into two subspecies: Panthera leo leo or ‘northern lion’ of west Africa, north Africa, West Asia and India and Panthera leo melanochaita the ‘southern lion’, that inhabits japanese and southern Africa.
The West African or Senegalese lion is genetically distinct from the lions of southern and japanese Africa and a part of the Northern lion subspecies. It has a skinny mane and a lanky physique, in accordance to the Panthera assertion
The lion is the official image of Senegal and the nationwide soccer workforce mascot, alongside with being highlighted in the nation’s anthem.
However, West African lions have suffered notably dramatic inhabitants declines due to unlawful looking of the species’ prey, poaching for the unlawful wildlife commerce, direct killing over livestock depredation and lack of habitat.
Lions now inhabit only one per cent of their historic vary in West Africa.
NKNP, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can also be house to one of many largest remaining leopard populations in addition to the final surviving African Hunting Dog populations in west Africa. Other wild cats discovered in NKNP embrace the serval, caracal and African wild cat.
Philipp Henschel, an skilled on the West African lion, who can also be Panthera’s West and Central Africa regional director, was quoted as saying that NKNP had the potential to harbour a whole lot of lions and turn out to be the ‘Serengeti of West Africa,’ benefitting each individuals and wildlife.
Meanwhile, the workforce plans to match GPS collars onto one other six lions in the present dry season.
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