Identifying and assessing survey methods for estimating lion population abundance


Understanding the population status of a species is vital for their conservation. Over the last two decades, multiple methods for surveying lion (Panthera leo) populations have been designed and tested.

A new study led by Samantha Nicholson, with WildCRU’s Hans Bauer and other authors conducted a PRISMA systematic review to identify and assess survey methods for estimating lion population abundance. They searched the Web of Science and Google Scholar for peer reviewed papers published between January 1991 and December 2022 and identified seven broad population survey methods for lions, namely call ups (34.8% of studies (93 studies)), spoor counts (32.5%), direct observations (15.7%), direct observations with capture recapture elements (12.4%), camera trap-based capture-recapture analysis (4.5%), genetic surveys (3%) and distance-based surveys (1.1%).

This review suggests that the most reliable methods for determining lion density or abundance are direct observations and camera trap-based capture recapture surveys. The authors further recommend that harmonised methods be developed to produce comparable and reliable estimates that can be used to inform conservation decisions across the species range.

Access the paper here: