Image: Supplied.

The presence of a resident male lion in Nyika National Park in Malawi. A sighting of a male and female with their two cubs in Luando Special Reserve – the first female and cubs to be seen in the area in over a decade.

And a recent Born Free expedition that recorded a small pride of lions for the first time at Mpem and Djim National Park in southern Cameroon – again, in an area where lions were considered to be locally extinct. 

“These records provide some hope that lion populations are beginning to establish and increase in areas where hope was lost,” said Samantha Page-Nicholson, the co-ordinator of the African Lion Database, a platform to consolidate critical data on the iconic species.

It was launched in October by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) under the auspices of the Cat Specialist Group of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. 

It plans to accurately quantify the numbers and population trends of the African lion, and document its presence or absence across its range.

“Although the African lion is one of the best-studied big cats, there is still uncertainty as to how many remain and where they occur across the continent. 

“The database is hosted by the EWT on behalf of the broader conservation community and will be used to compile, analyse, and store data on African lion distribution, abundance, and population trends, and support the continuous assessment of the status of lions across the continent. 

“This is significant because the more we know about a species the better we can protect it, by guiding conservation action and directing funding resources to where they are most needed,” says Page-Nicholson.  

The Saturday Star