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Lion ranges, populations dropping in Africa, study says

JOHANNESBURG — The lions that roam Africa’s savannahs have lost as much as 75 percent of their habitat in the last 50 years as humans overtake their land and the lion population dwindles, said a study released Tuesday.

Researchers at Duke University, including prominent conservationist Stuart Pimm, warned that the number of lions across the continent has dropped to as few as 32,000, with populations in West Africa under incredible pressure.

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‘‘Lion numbers have declined precipitously in the last century,’’ the study, published Tuesday by the journal Biodiversity and Conservation, reads. ‘‘Given that many now live in small, isolated populations, this trend will continue. The situation in West Africa is particularly dire, with no large population remaining and lions now absent from many of the region’s national parks.’’

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