Africa's lion population has dwindled to 32,000, a nearly 70 percent decline in the past 50 years, according to a new survey by Duke University.

Africa's lions are in trouble. They have lost as much as 75% of their habitat on the savannahs in the last 50 years as people overtake their land. The result is that the lion population is rapidly dwindling according to a new study published by the journal, Biodiversity and Conservation on Tuesday.

Fifty years ago, nearly 100,000 lions roamed across the African continent. But researchers at Duke University now warn that the number of lions across the continent have dropped to as few as 32,000. Lion populations in West Africa are under incredible pressure as human populations have cut down both the amount of land lions have to roam, as well as fragmented it.

According to the study, "Lion numbers have declined precipitously in the last century. 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."

“The word savannah conjures up visions of vast open plains teeming with wildlife. But the reality is that massive land-use change and deforestation, driven by rapid human population growth, has fragmented or degraded much of the original savannah. Only 25 percent remains of an ecosystem that once was a third larger than the continental United States,” said prominent conservationist Stuart Pimm in a statement released by Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

The report goes onto say that "by using satellite imagery, the researchers were able to determine the amount of land now available for lions that remains wild and minimally impacted by human growth. Those lands are rapidly diminishing, and more territory will likely be lost in the next 40 years.

Patrick B. Kraemer/Keystone/AP/File

"Of the 67 isolated locations in Africa where human populations are low enough to allow lions to survive, only 10 were deemed 'strongholds' where lions have an excellent chance of survival."

"Five countries in Africa have likely lost their lions since a 2002 study was run. Only nine countries contain at least 1,000 lions, while Tanzania alone has more than 40 percent of the continent's lions," according to the report. The consensus of the study calls for more mapping and studying to be done to ensure the lions' protection.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
The lion research was funded by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative, a long-term effort to halt the decline of big cats in the wild through assessment efforts, on-the-ground conservation projects, education and a global public-awareness campaign.

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 Andres Stapff/Reuters/File

 One-Month-old lion cub, Mello, lays his head on the paw of his mother Veni at Prigen Safari Park in Pasuruan, East Java, Indonesia, on Mar. 18.

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