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North-East / Central / Equatorial African lions

United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
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#1
( This post was last modified: 08-14-2019, 05:00 PM by BorneanTiger )

In 2017, the Cat Classification Taskforce of the Cat Specialist Group revised felid subspecies, including for the lion, and they recognised 2 subspecies: the northern Panthera leo leo for lions in Asia and northern parts of Africa (including the northern part of Central Africa), and the southern Panthera leo melanochaita for lions in southern parts of Africa (including in East Africa), but there's a problem, if you look closely at their map of lion subspecies in Page 72: https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/hand...=y#page=72 
   

They put a question mark over Ethiopia in Northeast Africa, and said "There have been several recent molecular studies, which confirm that there is a clear divergence between the lions of eastern and southern Africa and those from the rest of range (e.g. Dubach et al. 2013, Barnett et al. 2014). Barnett et al. (2014) identify five phylogeographical groups, which have differentiated genetically from each other over the last c. 80,000 years. However, two of these groups are partly sympatric in southern Africa, making their recognition as separate subspecies inappropriate. The divergence of the other three groups, which range from Central and West Africa to India, has been very recent (c. 50,000 years ago or less). Asian lions, which have frequently been recognised as a distinct subspecies have only colonised SW Asia within the last 20,000 years. However, this is far earlier than the suggestion by Thapar et al. (2013) that lions were introduced to India from East Africa from the 17th Century by the Mughals. Mazák (2010) analysed craniometric variation, although some populations were poorly represented, e.g. West Africa, and found a broadly similar pattern of variation with the main differentiation in skull shape being between lions in southern and eastern Africa and those in the rest of the range. Bertola et al. (2011, 2016) have confirmed this basic pattern of differentiation into two subspecies based on genetic data; one from south and east Africa and one from the rest of the range. The contact zone is somewhere in Ethiopia. On the basis of these recent studies, we recognise two subspecies, although morphological diagnoses are currently unknown

Panthera leo leo (Linnaeus, 1758). Distribution: Central and West Africa and India; formerly throughout North Africa, SE Europe, the Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, SW Asia. 

Panthera leo melanochaita (Hamilton Smith, 1842). Distribution: Southern and eastern Africa."

To put it simply, according to the CSG, using the work of Bertola et al. on lion genetics, the ranges of the northern (P. l. leo) and southern (P. l. melanochaita) lion subspecies meet at Ethiopia, and thus classifying Ethiopian lions (formerly Panthera leo abyssinica or Panthera leo roosevelti in honour of the U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who used to go hunting in Africa: https://archive.org/stream/smithsonianmi...3/mode/2up) is difficult.

If you remember, Ethiopian lions at Addis Abeba Zoo had earlier been in the news for their genetic makeup, like in National Geographic, after Bruche et al. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.100...8-5#page-2) determined them to be "genetically distinct": https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2012...-is-found/ 

*This image is copyright of its original author


A lion discovered in Bale Mountains National Park, National Geographichttps://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/an...video.aspx

*This image is copyright of its original author


However, as per Bertola et al. (https://www.nature.com/articles/srep3080..._evolution), they're not alone, and this appears to be a reason why the Addis Abeba lions, despite being in East Africa, were found to be different to wild lions in that region, such as Tanzania: 

*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author


According to Bertola et al., the Horn of African country of Ethiopia, part(s) of Somalia or Somaliland (from where Panthera leo somaliensis or Panthera leo webbiensis was described: https://web.archive.org/web/201707281311...ra_leo.pdf), and possibly northern parts of Kenya and Uganda (from where Panthera leo nyanzæ was described: https://archive.org/stream/smithsonianmi...5/mode/2up) in East Africa, and the southeastern part of South Sudan, are where the northern and southern lion groups overlap. In addition, the ranges of the 2 groups are depicted as being close in the northeastern part of D. R. Congo, from where Panthera leo azandicus was described: https://archive.org/stream/bulletinameri...3/mode/2up

A lion in Somaliland / Somalia in the Horn of Africa, photo by Feisal Omar of Reuters: https://www.businessinsider.com/the-self...of-china-1 

*This image is copyright of its original author


Northeast Congolese lion (formerly Panthera leo azandica) at Virunga National Park, photo by Adrian Treves: https://savevirunga.com/2012/07/02/1-000...irunga-10/ 

*This image is copyright of its original author


Ugandan lion (formerly Panthera leo nyanzæ) in Murchison Falls National Park, adjacent to Virunga Park, photo in Mariana Tourist Hotelhttps://marianahthotel.wordpress.com/saf...onal-park/ 

*This image is copyright of its original author


Another northern Ugandan lion in Kidepo Valley National Park, just south of South Sudan, photo in Ultimate Expeditionshttps://ultimateexpeditions.com/kidepo-v...ional-park 
*This image is copyright of its original author


South Sudanese lion at Boma National Park, photo in Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/570760952752139229/ 

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Counting northern Kenyan lions, by the Lion Recovery Fundhttps://www.lionrecoveryfund.org/project...de-survey/ 

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Germany Lycaon Offline
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#2

@BorneanTiger 

Excellent post! 

I have been interested in this group of lions for some time.

btw that kidepo lion is very beautiful.
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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
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#3
( This post was last modified: 08-18-2019, 11:14 AM by BorneanTiger )

As for that lion which was first spotted in Batéké Plateau National Park in the Central African country of Gabon in 2015 (https://psmag.com/environment/the-forest-lion-of-gabon), it was determined by Barnett et al. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.100...017-1039-2) to be related to Southern African lions in Botswana or Namibia, and specimens from Franceville and Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the neighbouring Republic of Congo (a.k.a. Congo-Brazzaville, not to be confused with D. R. Congo, a.k.a. Congo-Kinshasa) were 99.9 % genetically similar to those of Batéké lions, differing by only 1 mutation (like the relationship between Amur and Caspian tigers), meaning that these lions in the Central African countries of Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville are likely of Southern African origin (Panthera leo melanochaita), which is a further complication for the CSG, because they classified lions in Central Africa as belonging to the northern subspecies (Panthera leo leo, Pages 7173: https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/hand...=y#page=72).

A Batéké lion in Gabon, 2015, photo in the Pacific Standard and CNN

*This image is copyright of its original author


Diagrams by Barnett et al.: https://link.springer.com/article/10.100...017-1039-2

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Note the stars at the bottom of the diagram, that indicates where the Gabonese and C-Brazzaville lions maternally belong, and note that the lineage of a cave lion from Germany is below them: 

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Germany Lycaon Offline
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#4

This shows that that lion classification is not as simple as leo leo and leo melanochaita
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Germany Lycaon Offline
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#5

A North East lioness in dinder national park Sudan


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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
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#6
( This post was last modified: 01-22-2019, 09:16 PM by BorneanTiger )

(01-22-2019, 07:15 PM)Lycaon Wrote: This shows that that lion classification is not as simple as leo leo and leo melanochaita

Not only that, the Cat Specialist Group expressed doubt over their classification of subspecies of other felid species, such as the cheetah and cougar: https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/hand...sAllowed=y


Cheetah, Pages 3031:

"The most comprehensive phylogeographical study to date was by Charruau et al. (2011). This analysis of mtDNA (NADH5, cytb and control region) and 18 polymorphic nuclear microsatellites revealed a complex star-shaped pattern in the mtDNA haplotype network, with suggestions of geographical partitioning. For example, Asian, Arabian and north African cheetahs tended to group together as did those from north-east Africa, including Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti. However, this was not exclusive. East African cheetahs diverged into two different lineages from those of southern Africa. C. Groves (pers. obs.) found that Saharan cheetahs are probably distinguishable morphologically from their small spots, but that Asian cheetahs did not seem to differ significantly from African cheetahs. Charruau et al. (2011) concluded that the following subspecies can be recognised genetically, although no diagnostic morphological distinctions can be made currently:

Acinonyx jubatus jubatus (Schreber, 1775). Distribution: Southern and eastern Africa.

Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii (Fitzinger, 1855). Distribution: NE Africa.

Acinonyx jubatus venaticus (Griffith, 1821). Distribution: SW Asia and India.

Acinonyx jubatus hecki (Hilzheimer, 1913). Distribution: W and N Africa.

However, the divergence times between these lineages are very recent (Charruau et al. 2011), e.g. 32,000-67,000 ya between jubatus and venaticus, and 16,000-72,000 ya between jubatus and soemmeringii, and the inclusion of ancient DNA samples from north Africa and southwest Asia blurred the distinction between north African and Asian cheetahs, suggesting isolation by distance. It is possible that there are only two subspecies of cheetah; northern (venaticus) and southern/eastern (jubatus), or perhaps none if further more comprehensive sampling of museum specimens is carried out."

In other words, Asiatic cheetahs (A. j. venaticus) could be the same subspecies as Northeast (A. j. soemmeringii) and Northwest (A. j. hecki) African cheetahs, in the same way that Asiatic lions can be considered the same subspecies as North African lions, unless further research demonstrates that the cheetah shouldn't be classified into different subspecies.


Cougar, Pages 3233:

"A more recent study of mtDNA in pumas from throughout their range, although with lower sample sizes, supports only two main geographical groupings with North American populations having colonised since c. 8,000 years b.p. (Caragiulo et al. 2014). On this basis, we tentatively recognise two subspecies within Puma concolor:

Puma concolor concolor (Linnaeus, 1771). Distribution: South America, possibly excluding W of Andes in north.

Puma concolor couguar (Kerr, 1792). Distribution: North and Central America, possibly N South America W of Andes."
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Germany Lycaon Offline
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#7

Very interesting although ,I express doubt at how thorough the iucn is about genetic data on Acinonyx jubatus hecki. 
Since there is such little research done on them.
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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
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#8
( This post was last modified: 01-22-2019, 09:29 PM by BorneanTiger )

(01-22-2019, 08:59 PM)Lycaon Wrote: A North East lioness in dinder national park Sudan


*This image is copyright of its original author

And do you know what's special about Dinder National Park in Sudan? It's adjacent to the Ethiopian national park of Alatash, where a population of lions, apparently of Central African origin, was recently discovered, and whereas Sudan is considered to be in North Africa (without the Atlas Mountains which the Barbary lion inhabited), Ethiopia is considered to be in East Africa.

Alatash lion, photo in the BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35460573

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Germany Lycaon Offline
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#9

That is exactly why I have been trying to find more photos of this lion population. And the fact that they still have hung on in sudan at all
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Germany Lycaon Offline
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#10

Also @BorneanTiger 

It feels good knowing that you are interested in the more obscure big cats of the world. Just like me
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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
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#11
( This post was last modified: 01-24-2019, 03:25 PM by BorneanTiger )

Now for the Nubian lion (Panthera leo nubica), whose taxonomic name was used for East African lions to the south, or confused with the Atlas lion. Nubia is a historical region which is currently divided between Egypt and Sudan, so when De Blainville described a lion under Felis leo nubicus in 1843, he wasn't referring to a lion from the Atlas Mountains or Kenya, but from either Egypt or Sudan (https://web.archive.org/web/201707281311...ra_leo.pdf).

Image of lion reliefs in Nubian Sudan by The Wirehttps://thewire.in/history/rediscovering...ubia-sudan

*This image is copyright of its original author


Nubian lion in New York Zoo, 1903: https://archive.org/stream/annualreportn...9/mode/1up

*This image is copyright of its original author


Remember Jackie the MGM lion (1928–1956)?




Jackie was said to be from the Nubian desert of Sudan: https://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/201...l_tid.html
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Germany Lycaon Offline
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#12

Another genetic study done on lions in Nigeria

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264396913_Dual_phylogenetic_origins_of_Nigerian_lions_Panthera_leo
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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
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(01-24-2019, 12:25 AM)Lycaon Wrote: Another genetic study done on lions in Nigeria

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264396913_Dual_phylogenetic_origins_of_Nigerian_lions_Panthera_leo

I'm not surprised. I knew that Nigerian lions were divided between what Bertola et al. (https://www.nature.com/articles/srep3080..._evolution) called the 'Western' and 'Central' clades, with West Nigerian lions being related to other West African lions, like in Benin and Senegal, and East Nigerian lions being related to Central African lions, like in Chad, Cameroon and the Central African Republic: 

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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
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#14
( This post was last modified: 01-24-2019, 01:51 PM by BorneanTiger )

Phylogeographic studies were done on Sudanese lion samples, including from Nubia. Barnett et al. (https://web.archive.org/web/200708081825...0lions.pdf) used a vertebra from Nubia, and in terms of mtDNA, it grouped with skulls of Central African lions in the Central African Republic, and the northern part of Congo-Kinshasa (D. R. Congo), and that of an Ethiopian lion, but that it was less closely related to Northern (Barbary), Western, Eastern and Southern African lions, and lions in other parts of Central Africa: 

*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author



However, in another study by people including Barnett (https://www.researchgate.net/publication..._diversity), a drilled bone from Sudan (not sure where in Sudan, and Alfred Edward Pease, who wrote extensively about lions in parts of Africa that he had been to, including Barbary and Northeast African lions, tells us much about where in Sudan they had been (https://books.google.com/books?id=XHyIDQ...ns&f=false)) was used, and in this case, the Sudanese lion was distinct from others, including a Northeast Congolese lion.
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Germany Lycaon Offline
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#15

@BorneanTiger 

Very intriguing info on sudan lions. One would assume the lions in sudan would be closeley related to barbary but are not .
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