Kenya's lions could vanish within 10 years
Kenya has been losing 100 lions a year for the past seven years, leaving the country with just 2000 of its famous big cats, says the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) — which concludes the country could have no wild lions at all in 20 years. Conservationists have blamed habitat destruction, disease and conflict with humans for the population collapse.
But Laurence Frank, a wildlife biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, thinks the KWS estimate is optimistic. "Lions are disappearing so fast from Kenya, as well as the rest of Africa, that I think they will disappear [from Kenya] in less than 10 years if action is not taken very quickly," says Frank, who runs several lion conservation projects in the country.
The IUCN suggests that large lion populations of 50 to 100 prides are necessary to conserve genetic diversity and avoid inbreeding.
Frank says that the decline of the big cats is due to the inexorable growth in human population and consequent conflict with people over livestock, rather than disease.