|Male Northeast Congo lion in Murchison Falls|
|Northeast Congo lioness in Murchison Falls|
|Subspecies:||P. l. azandica|
|Panthera leo azandica
The Congo lion or Northeast Congo lion (Panthera leo azandica), was proposed as a lion subspecies from the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and western parts of Uganda. It is also known as the "Uganda lion."
The American zoologist Joel Asaph Allen proposed the trinomen Leo leo azandicus, and described a male lion as type specimen that was obtained by the American Museum of Natural History. This individual was killed in 1912 by museum staff as part of a zoological collection comprising 588 carnivore specimens. Allen admitted a close relationship to L. l. massaicus regarding cranial and dental characteristics but argued that his type specimen differed in pelage coloration.
In 1913, Heller gave the taxonomic name "Panthera leo nyanzae" to lions in Uganda. In 1924, Allen gave the trinomen "Panthera leo hollisteri" to lions on the northern bank of Lake Victoria, before Ugandan lions were seen as being of the same subspecies as those in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The British taxonomist Pocock subordinated lions to the genus Panthera in 1930 when he wrote about Asian lions. Three decades later, Ellerman and Morrison-Scott recognized just two lion subspecies, namely the Asiatic P. l. persica and the African P. l. leo.
Distribution and population status
In the Congo River basin, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the adjacent Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda may be a potential stronghold for lions in Central Africa, if poaching is curbed and prey species recover.
Since 1996, African lion populations have been assessed as Vulnerable by IUCN. They are killed pre-emptively or in retaliation for preying on livestock, and are threatened by depletion of prey base, loss and conversion of habitat. To address these threats, lion-human conflict needs to be reduced, and lion habitat and prey base increased. No captive individual of the Congo lion population is registered in the International Species Information System.
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