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This population has been listed as Critically Endangered in 2015 and survives in West Africa from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin to Niger and Nigeria.It is possibly extinct in Mauritania, Mali, Ghana, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Togo.The Asiatic lion persica was the most distinctive, and the Cape lion had characteristics allying it more with P. Mitochondrial variation in living African lions seemed to be modest according to some newer studies; therefore, all sub-Saharan lions have sometimes been considered a single subspecies.However, a recent study revealed that lions from western and central Africa differ genetically from lions of southern or eastern Africa.Nonetheless, they might carry genes that are extinct in the wild, and might be therefore important to maintain overall genetic variability of the lion. In North Africa, lions are regionally extinct in the wild due to excessive hunting; the last known Barbary lion was killed in Morocco in 1942.In 2017, the Cat Classification Task Force of the Cat Specialist Group assigned the lion populations in Asia and West, Central and North Africa to P. Small groups of lions may have survived until the 1960s.A lion pride consists of a few adult males, related females and cubs.
Lions in eastern Kenya are genetically much closer to lions in South Africa than to lions in the Aberdare Range in western Kenya or in Uganda.Such hybrid breeding is now discouraged due to the emphasis on conserving species and subspecies.Hybrids are still bred in private menageries and in zoos in China.Lion populations are untenable outside designated protected areas.
Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are the greatest causes of concern.
Lions have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire, and have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoos over the world since the late 18th century.