Saturday, 8 December 2012

African Savannah -- And Its Lions -- Declining at Alarming Rates


ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2012) — About 75 percent of Africa's savannahs and more than two-thirds of the lion population once estimated to live there have disappeared in the last 50 years, according to a study published this week in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation.
The study, led by Duke University researchers, estimates the number of lions now living on the savannahs to be as low as 32,000, down from nearly 100,000 in 1960. Lion populations in West Africa have experienced the greatest declines.

"The word savannah conjures up visions of vast open plains teeming with wildlife. But the reality is that massive land-use change and deforestation, driven by rapid human population growth, has fragmented or degraded much of the original savannah. Only 25 percent remains of an ecosystem that once was a third larger than the continental United States," said Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

Pimm and his colleagues used high-resolution satellite imagery from Google Earth, coupled with human population density data and estimates of local lion populations, to map areas still favorable to the big cats' survival.

Read more:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121204145555.htm

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