lion senegal

Lion of Senegal

How many lions are there in Senegal? How big is the king of the animals on this earth? What symbolism does it have in this country? How does the Niokolo-Koba National Park deal with the threat to the feline?

Welcome to Lion Kingdom! These questions, we ask ourselves today and we answer them with the help of all the research done by the African government, but also associations and organizations protecting animals. 🦁

In this article, you will partly discover:

  • How many lions Senegal has
  • How the government is doing to preserve them
  • What the feline represents in this country
  • As well as the state of the savannah in Senegal

After reading this article, you will know absolutely everything there is to know about one of the most beautiful animals on Senegalese soil. But before that, we have to present you one of our most beautiful creation. It is about this painting of an African lion. The photo was taken in Senegal. Discover it by simply clicking on the image below. 👇

Black and white lion painting

Wild Lion in Senegal

The West African lion is listed as “critically endangered“. The vast Niokolo-Koba National Park, with an area of 5500 square kilometers, 10 times the size of New York City, is home to the last remaining population of lions in Senegal.

These wild animals are very important to Senegal because they are featured on the official national symbol, and even the national soccer team is called the “Lions. However, there are less than 50 lions left in Niokolo-Koba and, as a result, the species is in great danger of extinction in the country. With adequate protection, however, the park could support a population of hundreds of lions.

Niokolo-Koba is therefore one of the most likely sites to contribute to the recovery and conservation of the West African lion. The park is also home to the westernmost population of wild dogs and is a rare example of coexistence between lions and chimpanzees. 🐒 There is a need to strengthen management and law enforcement presence in Niokolo-Koba, as current budgets are very low.

Lion of Senegal

Lion park in Senegal (Niokolo-Koba).

Panthera is implementing a financial and technical support project for Niokolo-Koba, with partial co-funding from a local mining company. Panthera aims to begin by establishing a 1,000-square-kilometer secure area in the park, covering about 19 percent of the park, in an area that currently has an inadequate management presence, and then gradually expand it. This Lion Recovery Fund grant will help Panthera establish infrastructure (a radio network and ranger bases), pay ranger bonuses, cover equipment and operating costs, and monitor law enforcement.

A second grant was awarded in late 2019 to allow for enhanced law enforcement efforts and provide a platform from which Panthera can expand its operational footprint in the park. This grant was strategic as it allowed Panthera to unlock $380,000 in additional funding from the Segre Foundation.

Niokolo-Koba lions

The Lion of Africa is Threatened

Lions are fighting for survival in Senegal. Researchers warn that the king of animals is rapidly losing his habitat in the savannahs of Africa. As a result, Senegal is in danger of losing its Lions. ❌

According to some experts, up to 40,000 lions once lived in West Africa. But a recent wildlife study estimates that only 400 of the big cats remain. The lions were driven from their lands. Today, they are fighting for their survival in four protected parks in the region.

Like many African countries, Senegal has tried to balance environmental concerns with development. Today, Niokolo Koba National Park is the last place in Senegal where some of Africa’s most famous animals live in the wild. The park’s 9,130 square kilometers are home to lions and other wildlife. But a busy road passes in the middle.

Colonel Ousmane Kane is the park’s conservation officer. He says all the animals that live there are important, but the lion is central. But Senegal is in danger of losing its lion population. He estimates that there are about 100 animals left in the park. Senegalese officials are using suggestions from the Panthera study to develop a plan to save the remaining lions. 🌿 One such suggestion is to prohibit villagers from allowing their livestock to feed in protected areas. These animals feed on the food that other wildlife in the park need. This harms the wildlife that the lions traditionally feed on.

lion african park

The Environment and Conservation of the Park

The wildlife meat trade in Senegal has reduced the number of other animals in the park that the lions would normally eat. The population of animals such as buffalo and roan antelope has declined by 95% in the last 20 years. 🐂

1) The Poachers

Demba Faye is one of 150 rangers who oversee the park. He says rangers caught four poachers early this year. He reports that they are struggling mightily to save the park. But he says there isn’t enough money to stop the illegal hunting. Like many African countries, Senegal must balance conservation and development, and Niokolo Koba National Park is the last place in the country where some of Africa’s most iconic species live free.

2) The Road and its Traffic

Traffic is among the greatest threats to the park’s animals. A large highway runs through the middle of it, and overloaded and worn out trucks going too fast are constantly tipping over and spilling their toxic contents into the grassy shoulders. ☠️

Warthogs, wild dogs, and horse-like antelopes known as hartebeests often end up being killed on the road. A few weeks ago, rangers found a hyena that had been hit. The driver had sawed off its head to make a trophy…

“They kill them all the time,” he says, mumbling to himself about the traffic.

Niokolo-Koba Road

Lions Population in Senegal

The Lions of Senegal are nearly extinct, but there are ways to change that. There are less than two dozen lions left in Niokolo Koba National Park.

Lion Symbolism in Senegal

In Senegal, the lion is called the “symbol of the country. It is noted that the Senegalese sing it in their national anthem. And, the national soccer team is called the Lions. 🦁

Lions represent to Senegal what bald eaglesrepresent to America. The image of a lion appears on the presidential seal. The national soccer team’s mascot is a lion. Statues of lions are placed at the entrances to cities and in front of military installations. A white stuffed lion is the centerpiece of the presidential palace foyer.

Lion soccer senegal

Senegal and its Savannah

Senegal offers an excellent representation of many of the indigenous ecological communities of West Africa. The country ranges from the semi-arid savannah of the Sahel in the north to the tropical forest with 60 cm of annual rainfall in the south, and from the forested hills in the southeast to the mangrove-fringed estuaries on the Atlantic coast. Its wildlife of monkeys, lions, manatees, and other varied creatures reflects this diversity of landscapes.

Senegal is home to a wide range of mammals, although many are highly threatened by habitat loss, over-hunting, and other human-related aggressions. Large ungulates (hoofed mammals) include buffalo, elephant, eland, giraffe, hippo, warthog, and various gazelles. The largest carnivore is the African lion, a virile, heavy-bodied cat that hunts in Savannah and open forests, taking down prey as large as giraffes and young elephants.

The smaller, solitary leopard is more elusive. One of Africa’s rarest (and most effective) predators, the painted hound, persists in southeast Senegal. Chimpanzees roam Mount Assirik in Niokolo-Koba National Park, while baboons, colobus, guenons, and mongooses are among the other indigenous primates. The West African manatee, a herbivorous marine mammal, frequents the Senegalese coast, lagoons and lower rivers.

Lion Statues Collection
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