Throughout Africa many people are working to assess the numbers of lions in a variety of areas. The most complete study to date showing the lion population in 2012 has recently been published, and you can find the details here.
On this page, throughout 2013 we will bring you the latest news as we get it about the remaining lions in Africa.
A study of lions in northwest Tete Province of Mozambique suggests 185 lions (range 136 - 227) exist in the region, down from a previous estimate of 295 lions made in 2009.
"In the west, lion range is continuous with Zambia along much of the Luangwa River. Range extends along most of Lake Cahora Bassa and expands northwards into pockets of Marávia and Chifunde districts. We suspect the lion range extends
eastward into the neighboring Macanga and Chiuta districts as it is contiguous with habitat in Chifunde. Distribution should be viewed with caution, as presence was not confirmed in all locations. Interviews, particularly in northern Zumbo, northeast and southeast Chifunde, and northern Marávia, would increase confidence of the lion distribution in these areas. It is possible that lion range in these areas is overpredicted and the true amount of habitat is smaller.
Lion populations in Tete Province are likely isolated except in the west where they connect with lions in Zambia. Several villages on the western border with Zambia noted weekly lion presence, suggesting that a transfrontier lion population may exist. Lions may also disperse from our study area to/from Zimbabwe when they cross the Zambezi River (Gianetta Purchase 2011, pers. comm., Nov 22). However, it is unlikely that lion range connects to the rest of Mozambique (e.g., to Gorongosa National Park) because of extensive human populations and disturbance to the southeast of the study area.
Lions in Tete Province are likely remnants of a low-density population once continuous with and ecologically part of neighboring protected areas. Although it is possible that the population is composed entirely of nomads, or dispersers, from abutting protected areas (e.g., Lower Zambezi and Luangwa Valley National Parks) or the Zambezi valley floodplains, interviewees from two separate villages indicated seeing more than one lion and cubs. This suggests that the area has a resident lion population.
We estimate 185 lions in the study area with a range from 136 – 227. Our estimate of 185 lions is greater than previous estimates from more geographically comprehensive reports. However, it is less than the most recent estimate by Chardonnet et al., which suggested 507 lions for all of Tete Province with the majority, 295, concentrated in the study area. Any estimate of lion numbers relying on density extrapolations to suspected habitat must be viewed with an appropriate amount of caution. While we feel this number is the best estimate possible given the available data, we also recognize that our results may overestimate lion range, and in turn population size"
Jacobson AP, Cattau ME, Riggio JS, Petracca LS, Fedak DA (2013) Distribution and abundance of lions in northwest Tete Province, Mozambique. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 6(1):87-107. To read the full report click here.