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The number of lions in Africa could be halved within the next 20 years, according to a new study.

It is a team of researchers at Oxford University who have collected surveys from fifty lion populations across the continent. Surveys were done from the early 1990s to today and based on this data they estimate the future survival of the species.

The data shows that lions are declining rapidly across the continent. At all locations except the most southern countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa where the lion population is stabilizing after extensive conservation efforts.

According to the scientists, the fact that lions will be disappearing will constitute major changes in the ecosystems since they play a key role as the apex predator in the food chain.

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Bauer, H. et. Al. “Lion (Panthera leo) populations are declining rapidly across Africa, except in intensively managed areas” DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.1500664112 / – / DCSupplemental.