African Lion - facts & figures

Did you know we have lost 90% of wild lions over the past century?  If we don't help protect the landscapes that lions live in, it won't be long before they become extinct in the wild. We can't let that happen. Learn more about lions and what we do to save them.

Historic and present lion range

The African lion was once widespread across most of Africa and even parts of Europe and Asia. Sadly, African lions have since undergone catastrophic declines, from as many as 200,000 wild lions in Africa a century ago to about 20,000 today.

As a result, African lions are now confined to a number of isolated areas as shown on the map (in red), amounting to only about 20% of its historic range. Much of this shrinking distribution has been due to illegal hunting and habitat destruction.

IUCN Population Status

The population status of the African Lion according to the IUCN Red list of Endangered species is Vulnerable, population decreasing. This means they have a high risk of extinction in the wild. There are regional differences and IUCN assesses lion population status in East Africa as Endangered. 


The need for coexsistence

Today, over 50% of the wild lions remaining live in unprotected range lands, shared with people and livestock. To secure lions and other large carnivores in the wild, we must therefore make their conservation valuable to the people who share the landscape with them. We work with local communities and conservation partners to create landscapes where both large carnivores and local people can thrive. Read more about our innovative Coexistence Co-op Program.

Viable lion populations need Lion Landscapes

Viable populations of wild lions, or any other pinnacle carnivore species, need a healthy habitat, abundant wild prey populations and tolerant people and livestock. This is what we call a Lion Landscape.⁠ Our lion conservation and research work focusses on how local communities, their livestock and lions can co-exist in a lion landscape.⁠ Learn how collaring lions helps to protect them.

African Lions prefer wild prey

The preferred prey of African Lions are medium and large herbivores like wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, gemsbok and giraffe. These prey species are faster than lions and it needs teamwork to take them down. The female lionesses are responsible for the hunt, but the male lion gets to eat first. His reward for protecting the pride's territory.

However, when wild prey populations decrease, lions turn to livestock which creates human-wildlife conflict. Our Co-existence programs help local communities to better protect their livestock to avoid predation. 

REDD+ and Lions

Did you know that REDD+ is improving biodiversity in Zambia and protecting one of the remaining strongholds of African Lions?

In Zambia we have partnered with BioCarbon Partners, the Lion Recovery Fund, National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative and the Darwin Initiative to develop Lion Carbon - a premium carbon offset, which gives local communities meaningful income in return for long-term wildlife and habitat protection agreements.

Giving biodiversity value to local people and increasing the capacity to sustainably manage that diversity is at the core of this program.


Serious facts

  • Did you know that over 50% wild lions remaining today share their landscape with people, outside formally protected areas like national parks?

  • Did you know that lions can survive outside fenced areas within pastoral regions if communities gain benefits from wildlife? 

  • Did you know that only 6 countries are known today to each contain more than 1.000 lions? And that only 10 areas have been identified as offering a secure future of lions? 

  • Did you know the territories of lions can spread over hundreds of kilometers and that is why they need protection at a lanscape scale?

  • Did you know that male lions stay in the pride for about two years and then are kicked-out? These dispersing males are vulnerable to conflict with people in their search for a territory of their own. 

Fun facts

  • Did you know African Lions are highly social cats, living in prides of up to 40 members. Each female tends to stay in her birth pride, whereas most young males leave the pride in small groups (coalitions) to create their own.

  • Did you know the African Lion is a member of the genus Panthera? The Tiger, Jaguar and Leopard are the only other cats in this genus. What is special about this genus is that all species are able to roar.

  • Did you know a lion's roar can be heard 5 miles (or 8 km) away? Male lions use their roar to scare off other males and to warn members of the pride of potential danger.

  • Did you know that although Lions are Apex predators, at the top of the food chain, they aren’t great hunters? The success rate of hunts is less than 30%. 

  • Did you know that the average weight of a male lion is 180kg and that of a female lion 130kg. This is 40-50x the weight of a domestic cat!

Did you know?
We need YOUR help
to save wild lions!

We're now raising funds for Lion Rangers in Kenya, Lion Defenders in Tanzania and Community Scouts in Zambia.

#BefriendARanger and support these men and women protecting Livelihoods, Lions and Landscapes.

Lion Landscapes

UK: +44 (0)7939459199

Kenya: +254 (0)723836972

UK Registered Charity No: 1190168