There are only 400 lions left in West Africa. The species is Critically Endangered and very few studies have been conducted to improve knowledge about these populations, their distributions, movements, feeding, behaviour and to deepen the scope of threats to them.
The W Regional Park represents one of the few remaining sanctuaries where lions can still survive, at least in West Africa. Despite the size of the Protected Area and the ecological quality of the general environment, which is still remarkably good for a highly altered macro-region such as West Africa, the felid populations and the global large fauna of the park are subject to considerable threats.
Illegal hunting is a very strong pressure and by far the most impacting; It is a constant threat to the management and conservation of the area. Poachers are directly decimating the big cats or killing other mammals, which diminishes their prey density. Lions are also suffering from act of poisoning by herders who provide them with fatal substances to keep them away while illegally crossing or grazing within the park. Those threats are even more serious since the lion density is already quite low in the area.
By developing a new bio-monitoring activity using satellite collars, this project will provide unprecedented data on lions. Having daily information will enable the project team to get to know more about the lions' habits, moves and repartition, and so sharpen the decision making and management of the area.
Also, the activities designed within this project will, directly or indirectly, be tools to address some of the main threats to lions in the W park in Niger.
Beyond the field work, data will be gathered; this will help with the decision-making process and the establishment of an adapted conservation strategy and so have a long-term impact on the park and its management. More generally, by collecting data in an area where few studies only have been led, this project will have a permanent added value for the lion conservation in West Africa.
The bio-monitoring and knowledge of this Critically Endangered species – the West African Lion - are deepened through:
- Implementation of a new and unprecedented monitoring methods of lions in the W Park;
- Daily telemetric data on 8 lions;
- Creation of a new database: Detailed and updated datasets on the distribution, occupied territory, alimentation, behavior, threats, eventual encounter or conflicts with human and habitat preferences of lions in W;
- 1 post-graduate student is carefully trained and participates to bio-monitoring process.
This project is a part of the IUCN SOS African Wildlife initiative, which is funded by the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG Devco) through its B4Life initiative.