Thank you for your interest in the project.
Who is behind the project?
Many supervisors, advisers, even family and friends are helping through this endeavour! However, Fleur is the main researcher behind this project, which is conducted as part of her PhD. Holding a master degree in endangered species recovery and conservation from the UK, she spent a few years developing her research and conservation skills mostly in South Africa and Malawi. In early 2020, she decided it was time for her to take a step further and started a PhD in Wildlife Management with the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Fleur is raising funds to study the remaining lion populations in West & Central Africa through a charity: The High Five Wildlife Society, which has been created in order to provide the necessary resources for the study.
Why the lion in West & Central Africa?
Lions in West and Central Africa are genetically distinct and belong to a different subspecies than other African lion populations. Lions in Central Africa meet the criteria to be listed as endangered, with what are mostly declining populations in Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan. In West Africa, lions have lost 99% of their historical range. And with a total of around 400 individuals, including less than 250 adults, the lion in West Africa is now listed as regionally critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is believed that most of these lions persist in the W-Arly-Pendjari complex (a transnational conservation area spanning Benin, Burkina-Faso and Niger) with only small remnant populations found in Niokolo-koba National Park, Senegal, as well as two protected areas in Nigeria.
These fragmented, isolated populations require increased conservation attention to prevent further population declines or possibly extinction. Yet, the current literature and data available on these populations are insufficient for taking appropriate conservation management decisions. To address this, this project, conducted through the University of Pretoria and in collaboration with researchers of the NGO Panthera, aims at increasing our understanding of the status and conservation of the lion in these regions, in order to suggest an informed regional stratety for its recovery.
Lion range in West and Central Africa (Panthera and WCS 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species).
What will she be studying exactly?
She will mostly investigate the genetic health of current lion populations, in order to figure out which strategy would be best to conserve them. She will also analyse the DNA of old lion specimens kept in Natural History Museums, to determine what the genetic health of historical populations in the area was like, and how this may have changed with increasing human pressure in these past decades.
How can you help?
DNA studies are very expensive!! Please help us get the necessary resources to carry out this project. Your contribution can help us purchase equipment to collect and analyse DNA samples, fund local field assistants, pay for fuel costs and vehicle maintenance, etc. Click on the "Updates" thumbnail to see what each donation could fund.
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