The Barbary Lion, The Biggest Lion Species In The World Is Extinct In The Wild But Why?
Each animal on our planet plays and very important and specific role in nature. Each has a purpose and is part of an ecosystem that can only exist if each piece of the puzzle is able to play its role correctly. Whether it’s tiny insects like ants and beetles or the largest of mammals like lions and tigers, each is valued and should be taken care of equally. Unfortunately due to the increase in pollution, deforestation and the effects of climate change and global warming many animal species have suffered great threats as their population has taken a steady decline. The Barbary lion for example is just one of the historical lion range facing extinction as we speak and in this article you will learn all about how and why this is happening.
Different Species Of Lion
The lion historic range is very diverse and consists of a multitude of different lion species which can be seen in all different parts of the world. Each species of the lion has its own unique characteristics and adaptations which allows it to fully thrive within its surroundings and temperament. The biggest lion species are the Barbary lions, they are also the ones that are most commonly known to us due to their appearance, large size and distinguishable mane. There are many more lion species in nature too, some of these include :
- West African Lion
- Southwest African Lion
- Masai Lion
- Transvaal Lion
- Ethiopian Lion
- Asiatic Lion
- Congo Lion
- Katanga Lion
- Nubian Lion
As you may have been able to notice, many of these lion species belong to the African continent. This has a lot to do with its history as well as climate.
What is A Lion Scientific Name?
The Barbary lion which is also known as the atlas lion or the North African lion goes by the scientific name Panthera Leo Leo. Barbary lions are an extinct lion species that not only exist in zoos across the country. Within wildlife, they no longer exist and are kept in conservation for the possibility of regrowing and adhering the species back into the wild at a later stage. In fact, there are fewer than one hundred barbary lions, making them extremely rare and also extremely vulnerable. The Barbary lion is also called the king of the jungle due to the fact that it rules the highlands of North Arica in areas where the greenery was once in abundance. This ancient lions species also hunted deer, wild boar and gazelles, making them a predator to many.
What Is the Difference Between a Barbary Lion and African Lion?
Barbary lion vs African lion, what sets them apart from one another? Although at first glance all lions may appear to look similar or in some cases even exactly the same, there are actually quite a few differences both in appearance and adaptations that really set them apart. The Barbary lion and the African lion are two of the most well-known lion species in the world. While they may appear to look virtually identical there are some key defining factors you need to know about. Firstly the Barbary lion size is quite a lot longer than African lions, they are also heavier but are also slighter shorter than African Lions. Barbary lions also have short, stocky limbs and a muscular torso with a slighter deeper chest wall than an African lion.
Barbary Lion Extinction
The Barbary lion extinction is a very real and true but also sad occurrence that has been felt throughout nature and the wildlife system.So is the barbary lion extinct? The Barbary lion is completely extinct in the wild, meaning there are no barbary lions roaming throughout nature, however, they are not entirely extinct due to the fact that there are a selected few that have been kept in zoos under conservation as a way of hopefully protecting and eventually reproducing the species. The last known Barbary lion was hunted and shot in Morocco in the year 1942, and while there have been claimed sightings, studies suggest that this was not factual. Back in the day, the atlas lions Morocco were seen in the tops of the Atlas mountains in many regions of Africa. They stretched from north to south, from Algeria to Morocco and were once the biggest lion subspecies in the world. They were most commonly known for their dark, long-haired manes which appeared to extend from the tip of the head all the way to the middle of their bellies.
Why Is The Barbary Lion Extinct
So what is responsible for the barbary lion population decline? There are many factors that have contributed to the extinction of the Barbary lion species. Many of these factors come as a result of human behaviour and are destructive. Firstly loss of habitat played a big part in the reasons for extinct lions. By destroying the land for industrialisation, Barbary lions were forced into smaller and smaller areas of the world. Loss of resources, changes in climate and increased pollution all contributed to their extinction. However, the main cause of the total wipeout of the Barbary lion is actually a respiratory disease that swept across the population, illuminating all barbary lions by the 1960s.
The Barbary Lion In Captivity
As a result of their mass wipeout and immediate extinction, a select few barbary lions have remained and been taken into captivity by various zoos around the world. It is also hard to say whether these species are directly barbary or whether they have been mixed. None the less many scientists and researchers are coming up with a plan to try and reintroduce the Barbary lion back into the wild with the hope that the species will reproduce and follow a new thread line in the wild. Considering they have not appeared in nature for the past 60 years this type of process can be tricky and risky and thus alot of preparation is required. They will have to look at geographical structures, lion genetics and a wide range of other factors that may have an effect on their reintroduction and possibility of survival.
Recently Extinct Lions
So which of these lions are recently extinct? We have spoken about the fact that there is a wide range of different Lion species present in the wild. Each species is slightly different from the other but all play important roles in the ecosystems of nature. While we have focused on the Barbary lion and its extinction, there are others that are facing the same threats and vulnerability to endangerment, possible extinction and rapid population decline. Some of the recent lion species that have been acknowledged as being instinct include:
- The American Lion
The American lion was once one of the heaviest and largest lion species in the world. It was so vastly different to many of the lion species we knew that there was even speculation it was more closely related to tigers and jaguars.
- The Cape Lion
The cape lion, scientifically known as Panthera Leo Melanochatius was once the ruler of South African wildlife. Unfortunately, they were last seen in the 19th century and have been classified as extinct since. However, there have been many indications of rare sightings f these large and beautiful creatures, although nothing convincing enough.
- The Cave Lion
The Cave Lion is another lion species that was once an important element of wildlife. They are probably the most famous of all extinct big cats and has readily been compared to a cave bear in terms of structure and build. The cave lion was one of the few lions Europe had seen and got its name as a result of its habitat.
- The Black Lion
There has been alot of speculation regarding these lion species. With many questioning “are black lions extinct?” There are many conspiracy theories regarding the black lion, with an abundance of people claiming that they do not even exist. The truth is deep within the heart of Ethiopia some of the biggest lions can be seen with unusual dark black manes, hence the name. It still remains unclear whether this is a species of a lion or a subspecies that has adapted to the weather conditions of sub-Saharan Africa. None the less black lions were named extinct until 50 of them were rediscovered in the year 2016. Although they are not extinct they are extremely vulnerable and endangered with only around 20,000 left in the wild today.
The Bottom Line
As you can see it doesn’t take much to wipe out an entire species of animal. As seen with the Barbary lion, protection and observation are of the utmost importance. All animals are important to the world, wild and nature however lions play a particularly special role within the food chains and ecosystems. They are a large predator and are largely responsible for carrying out some of the final stages of the food chain. However, lions are facing something far greater and bigger than themselves, humans. Humans are the sole destroyer of the animal kingdom and ultimately responsible for alot of extinction witnessed. Our behaviours, whether direct or not are facing far greater consequences on wildlife than what we would have ever imagined before. It is now our chance to redeem ourselves by making an effort to preserve what we have left. Together we can make a large difference and help to save the remainder of the lion species population for the future of our planet and the next generations to come.
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