Monday, August 22, 2016

West and Central Lions Distinct Subspecies

Scientists at Leiden University, Netherlands have determined that lions in West and Central Africa are genetically distinct from their relatives in Eastern and Southern Africa.  The split between the three major populations [map] is estimated to have occurred 300,000 years ago.  To explain the genetic differences, scientists have reconstructed the climatological history in Africa.  Expanding and contracting periods of suitable savannah habitat drove lions into isolated pockets where the genetic lineages were established and persist to the present day.  The identification of distinct genetic lineage in these lions increases the concern that they may be extiquished due to unsustainable losses from poaching, fewer prey animals, and habitat destruction. A delegation from Leiden will lead a "side show" at the IUCN congress in September to discuss its findings and contribute to the coordination funding of conservation projects.