In a thrilling sign of recovery for the Critically-Endangered West African lion, camera trap footage and photos of a West African lioness and her three cubs playing, nursing, and feeding in Senegal’s Niokolo Koba National Park (NKNP) were released by the conservation outfit Panthera.
The high-definition videos and photos feature Florence, a 9 to 10-year-old GPS-collared lioness that scientists believe has now given birth to three litters, totaling nine cubs, since 2021.
Now considered the matriarch of Niokolo Koba, this lioness has contributed approximately one-third of the park’s lion population which has grown slowly from a razor’s edge pride of 10 to 15 individuals in 2011 to perhaps as many as 40 today.
Just 120-374 West African lions are estimated to remain in the wild today, with their historic range having shrunk by 99%. They are part of the Northern lion subspecies, which used to range across North Africa.
When WaL reported on NKNP’s lions last year, Panthera West and Central Africa Regional Director Dr. Philipp Henschel said that the lions had hunkered down in a tiny core area, about 10% of the park’s massive 9,000 square kilometers.