The threats to these iconic big cats—including loss of prey, conversion of protected habitat to grazing and agriculture, and a growing number of human-lion conflicts—are accelerating. In late October 2014, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection for the African lion, which would ban commerce in lions and lion products. A public comment period ends in late January. Emerging science suggests a close genetic relationship between west central African lions and highly endangered Asiatic lions, which could lead to stronger protections.
(Photo: Sirko Hartmann/Getty Images)