Hungry lions range farther afield

Lions in Cameroon are roaming over bigger areas than they did a decade ago, perhaps because food in their home ranges has become scarce.

Carnivores that need a lot of space can be tough to conserve. Roads and farms often break up their territory. And animals that venture into populated areas sometimes attack livestock, making people less likely to support the species’ protection.

A research team fitted four lions in Cameroon’s Waza National Park with radiocollars and monitored them from 2007 to 2009. The animals’ average home range was 1,015 square kilometers — a 59 percent increase since an earlier study in 2000. The change was “remarkable, with lions crossing the highway parallel to the park to the Cameroon-Nigerian borders,” the authors write in Mammalian Biology.

The researchers suspect that the lions expanded their ranges because prey animals such as antelope and warthogs have declined in the park. “Measures to restore the integrity of the park are urgently needed,” they conclude. Roberta Kwok | 20 September 2013

Source: Tumenta, P.N. et al. 2013. Changes in lion (Panthera leo) home range size in Waza National Park, Cameroon. Mammalian Biology doi: 10.1016/j.mambio.2013.08.006.

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