The Durrell Institute of Conservation located at the University of Kent recently published new research on the now extinct Barbary Lion. The new research reveals that the Barbary Lion remained unnoticed for over a decade in its last days of existence. Researcher, assuming its complete extinction, failed to notice the existence of this species. Moreover, the findings of the research reveal that this lion was in existence in North Africa until the 1960’s.
The credibility of this research is buttressed by the facts used by the researchers in coming up with their findings. Dr. Simon Black and Dr. David Roberts were fortunate to stumble on authentic records documenting the lion population. The records reveal the existence of this lion species at North Africa in 1956. The detailed records provide information of the population of the Barbary Lion in the 1920’s and the 1940’s. Museum specimen, hunting records, publications, interviews, and hunting photographs, further supports the accuracy of these records.
Using the secondary information, the researchers were also able to uncover important behavioral information of the species as its population dwindled. The research reveals that the lion did not alter its behavior as its numbers reduced. Regardless of lesser numbers, this species continued to live in prides up until its final extinction. This behavior piqued the interest of the researchers considering that most lion species alter their behaviors, as their numbers get smaller. The Barbary Lion seems to be an exception to the rule.
Both researchers gave their opinions on the findings of their research. Commenting on the finding that this lion went unnoticed for some time, Dr. Roberts observed that this is likely to happen in the last stages of the extinction. As a result, the last record of a species is an unreliable way to gauge the numbers of the lion since the species far outlived such recordings until its final extinction. Dr. Black observed that hunters such as Sir Harry Johnston suspected the existence of this species despite him not being able to hunt the lion in his expeditions in Algeria.
Dr. Black is a Research Associate at the Durrell Institute while Dr. Robert is a Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity Conservation at the University of Kent. The research used statistical models created by Dr. Roberts. Using the models, both researchers found that the last species of this lion might have survived well into the 1960’s. The few remaining lions we have in some zoos in Europe and Morocco today are direct descendants from the Moroccan Royal Collection. The research by Dr. Robert and Dr. Brown reveals that the remaining species is related to the Barbary Lion. These findings shed new light on the family tree of the lion species. As observed by Dr. Black, the research is a great step in boosting efforts to manage lion species that are directly descended from the Moroccan Royal Collection. He hoped that the research serves as a wake up call for conservation efforts for the remaining lion population.