New records of a threatened lion population (Panthera leo) in a West African national park
In West Africa, the lion is currently characterised by small populations that are fragmented and often isolated from one another, with virtually no ecological connection. In addition, lion populations are generally declining. In recent reports, in Ghana the lion has been declared functionally extinct, if not completely eradicated, and recent surveys have made conclusions as to the probable extinction of lions in Mole National Park (MNP) in Ghana’s Northern Territory. The aim of this report is to highlight the lion’s continued presence in MNP, an area that must continue to be considered for species conservation, and therefore studied carefully. In April 2011, a young male lion was filmed using camera traps, and a roar was clearly audible. The choice of where to place the camera traps (n = 20) was based on a habitat suitability model developed using lion records collected over 41 years. Additional records support our data, which demonstrate that MNP could possibly still be considered as an area designated for lion conservation in West Africa, even considering the significant findings based on molecular biology that prove that lions in West and Central Africa are clearly differentiated from other African lions.
Key words: Panthera leo, threatened, Mole National Park, West Africa.