Lion population close to collapse

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An Oxford professor has suggested that Africa’s lion population is in danger of collapse, after a four-year study in Zimbabwe and Botswana. Research lead by Professor MacDonald, of the University’s Zoology Department, found that the estimated lion population in Africa has been reduced to a tenth of its size in the early 1980s. This is largely as a result of greater competition with farmers, who regard lions as pests and unsustainable levels of trophy hunting. Whilst ecotourism is encouraging the conservation of Africa’s wildlife in some small areas, Professor MacDonald said that “it’s unrealistic to expect it to do everything”. Viable lion populations now remain only in South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya, though as MacDonald stresses “20,000 lions might sound a lot, but we’re talking about an entire continent. “They need sufficient numbers of prey species to survive, but lions are being trapped, poisoned or shot rather than dying from starvation.” MacDonald is also worried that the numbers of less noticeable animals may be falling too, but that the matter attracts less public interest.ARCHIVE: 1st Week MT2003

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