in

Barbary Lions Once Inhabited Northern Africa’s Mountains And Deserts, But The Spread Of Firearms And Bounties For Shooting Lions Led To The Extinction Of This Species

Erni - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual lion

In 1922, the very last wild Barbary lion was killed by a French hunter in Morocco. Barbary lions were a population of the lion subspecies Panthera leo leo.

They once inhabited the mountains and deserts of northern Africa, from Morocco to Egypt. They became extinct after the spread of firearms and bounties for shooting lions.

Barbary lions were widely revered for their impressive size and dark-haired manes. They were kept by royal families in northern Africa, but the Romans also loved them just as much.

They had the lions fight in the Coliseum with gladiators, displayed them in zoos and parks, and even housed them at the Tower of London for a brief period.

However, that all led to the complete eradication of the species. The Romans slaughtered thousands of lions during their gladiator battles.

After the Romans, the Arab empire forced the animals into a smaller habitat range. In the 19th century, the arrival of European hunters finally killed off the remaining lions.

Between 1901 and 1910, not a single Barbary lion was spotted. By the 1920s, scientists believed they were extinct.

But, according to a new study published in PLOS One, Barbary lions may have stayed alive and hidden from humans in the wilderness of Algeria and Morocco for several decades, possibly even as late as 1965.

Researchers from the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology in England and the National Agency for Nature Conservation in Algiers examined accounts of lion sightings in the years after they were said to be extinct.

Erni – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual lion

Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered to your inbox.

1 of 2