female-lion-in-sunAt a regional scale, lion populations in West, Central, and East Africa are likely to suffer a projected 50% decline over the next two decades, whereas lion populations are only increasing in southern Africa, says a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America,

“Many lion populations are either now gone or expected to disappear within the next few decades to the extent that the intensively managed populations in southern Africa may soon supersede the iconic savannah landscapes in East Africa as the most successful sites for lion conservation.”

The rapid disappearance of lions suggests a major trophic downgrading of African ecosystems with the lion no longer playing a pivotal role as apex predator.

The authors also warned that the African lion could come to rely on the small, managed reserves, “and may no longer be a flagship species of the once vast natural ecosystems across the rest of the continent.”