Congo lion

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Congo lion
Murchison falls lion.jpg
Male Northeast Congo lion in Murchison Falls
Lion in Murchison Falls National Park.JPG
Northeast Congo lioness in Murchison Falls
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Panthera
Species: P. leo
Subspecies: P. l. azandica
Trinomial name
Panthera leo azandica
(Allen, 1924)[1]

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."[2][3]

Taxonomic history[edit]

Males from Virunga National Park, northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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.[4]

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,[3] before Ugandan lions were seen as being of the same subspecies as those in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[5]

The British taxonomist Pocock subordinated lions to the genus Panthera in 1930 when he wrote about Asian lions.[6] Three decades later, Ellerman and Morrison-Scott recognized just two lion subspecies, namely the Asiatic P. l. persica and the African P. l. leo.[7]

Distribution and population status[edit]

Uganda lioness on a tree in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda.

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.[8]

Lions are also present in Uganda's Kidepo Valley and Murchison Falls National Parks, in the Central African Republic, in Rwanda's Akagera National Park and in the south of Sudan.[9]

Conservation status[edit]

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.[10] No captive individual of the Congo lion population is registered in the International Species Information System.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 546. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Allen, G. M. (1939). A Checklist of African Mammals. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College 83: 1–763.
  3. ^ a b Geptner, V. G., Sludskij, A. A. (1972). Mlekopitajuščie Sovetskogo Soiuza. Vysšaia Škola, Moskva. (In Russian; English translation: Heptner, V.G., Sludskii, A. A., Komarov, A., Komorov, N.; Hoffmann, R. S. (1992). Mammals of the Soviet Union. Vol III: Carnivores (Feloidea). Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation, Washington DC).
  4. ^ Allen, J. A. (1924). Carnivora Collected By The American Museum Congo Expedition. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 47: 73–281.
  5. ^ Haas, S.K.; Hayssen, V.; Krausman, P.R. (2005). "Panthera leo" (PDF). Mammalian Species. 762: 1–11. doi:10.1644/1545-1410(2005)762[0001:PL]2.0.CO;2. 
  6. ^ Pocock, R. I. (1930). The lions of Asia. Journal of the Bombay Natural Historical Society 34: 638–665.
  7. ^ Ellerman, J. R., and T. C. S. Morrison-Scott. (1966). Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian Mammals 1758 to 1946. Second edition. British Museum (Natural History), London.
  8. ^ Treves, A., Plumptre, A. J., Hunter, L. T., & Ziwa, J. (2009). Identifying a potential lion Panthera leo stronghold in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda, and Parc National Des Virunga, Democratic Republic of Congo. Oryx 43 (01): 60–66.
  9. ^ Bauer, H., Van Der Merwe, S. (2004). Inventory of free-ranging lions Panthera leo in Africa. Oryx 38 (01): 26–31.
  10. ^ Bauer, H.; Packer, C.; Funston, P.F.; Henschel, P. & Nowell, K. (2016). "Panthera leo". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  11. ^ Barnett, R., Yamaguchi, N., Barnes, I., Cooper, A. (2006). The origin, current diversity and future conservation of the modern lion (Panthera leo). Proceedings of the Royal Society B 273 (1598): 2119–2125. doi:10.1098/rspb.2006.3555 PMID 16901830