The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Panthera leo

 – Vulnerable


Common Name/s: AFRICAN LION (Eng)
LION (Eng)
LEÓN (Spa)
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:

See Panthera leo ssp. persica

Assessment Information

Red List Category & Criteria: VU A2abcd    ver 3.1 (2001)
Year Assessed: 2004
Assessor/s: Nowell, K. & Bauer, H. (Cat Specialist Group)
Evaluator/s: Breitenmoser, U., Breitenmoser, C. & Jackson, P. (Cat Red List Authority)
Justification: A species population reduction of 30–50% is suspected over the past two decades (three lion generations). The causes of this reduction are not well understood, are unlikely to have ceased, and may not be reversible. This suspected reduction is based on direct observation; appropriate indices of abundance; a decline in area of occupation, extent of occupation and habitat quality; and actual and potential levels of exploitation.

The range of the lion in North Africa and South-West Asia formerly stretched across the coastal forests of northern Africa and from northern Greece across south-west Asia to eastern India. Today the only living representatives of the lions once found throughout much of South-West Asia occur in India’s Gir Forest (Nowell and Jackson 1996). This population of the Asiatic lion, Panthera leo persica, is classified as Critically Endangered (CR C2a(ii)). The Asiatic lion population currently stands at approximately 250 mature breeding individuals, all occurring within one area. Since the population now extends beyond the boundary of the lion sanctuary, the numbers are expected to suffer a decrease due to increasing conflict with people.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the lion conservation community works in the context of four regions: West, Central, East and Southern. The lion population is classified as Endangered in the region of West Africa (Bauer and Nowell, in submission). It is isolated from lion populations of Central Africa, with little or no exchange of breeding individuals (Chardonnet 2002, Bauer and Van Der Merwe 2004). The number of mature individuals in West Africa is estimated by two separate recent surveys at 850 (Bauer and Van Der Merwe 2004) and 1,163 (Chardonnet 2002). Both estimates are well below the Endangered criterion level of 2,500. Lions in West Africa are grouped into three isolated subpopulations by Chardonnet (2002) and approximately seven by the African Lion Working Group (Bauer and Van Der Merwe 2004). Chardonnet’s (2002) three subpopulations consist of 18 different individual populations, between which there may be some interchange of individuals, although this is unknown. There is disagreement over the size of the largest individual population in West Africa: the African Lion Working Group (Bauer and Van Der Merwe 2004) estimates 100 lions in Burkina Faso’s Arly-Singou ecosystem, while Chardonnet (2002) estimates 404 for the same area (mean 250).
1996-Vulnerable (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
2001-Vulnerable (IUCN 2002)

Summary Documentation

System: Terrestrial
Population Trend: Down

Citation: Bauer, H. & Nowell, K. 2004. Panthera leo. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <>. Downloaded on 15 October 2007.
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