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Male West African Lion

Female West African Lion (aka Lioness)

The West African lion (Panthera leo senegalensis), also known as the Senegal lion, Ghanian lion, or​​​​​​ Nigerian lion, is a lion subspecies native to western Africa. Their populations are small and fragmented, comprising at most 1,800 individuals in all of West and Central Africa. They are therefore considered Regionally Endangered. The West African lion is distributed in Western Africa, south of the Sahara, from Senegal in the west, to the Central African Republic in the east. Results of genetic research indicate that the Western and Central African lions form a different clade of lions, and are perhaps more related to Asiatic lions than to lions from Southern or Eastern Africa. Since West African lions are considered to be regionally endangered, their genetic distinctiveness is of particular interest. In a comprehensive study about the evolution of lions, 357 samples of 11 lion populations were examined, including some hybrid lions. The hybrids were descended from Southern African lions captured in Angola and Zimbabwe, and apparently Central or West African lions. Results indicated that four "Atlas lions" from Morocco did not exhibit any unique genetic characteristics. The Moroccan cats shared mitochondrial haplotypes with Senegal lions, and together with them were part of a major mtDNA grouping that also included Asiatic samples.



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