We have recently published a paper about the phylogenetic history of the few remaining populations of lions in Nigeria (Tende et al. 2014, Ecology & Evolution). We used DNA extracts from individuals from Kainji-Lake National Park (western Nigeria) and from Yankari Game Reserve (central northeast) and sequenced the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. The sequences were aligned against 61 lion reference sequences from other parts of Africa and India. At the larger geographical scale the Nigerian lions grouped together with lions from West and Central Africa, and at the smaller scale, lions from Kainji in western Nigeria grouped with lions from Benin (located west of Nigeria), whereas lions from Yankari in central northeast grouped with the lion populations in Cameroon (located east of Nigeria). The finding that the two remaining lion populations in Nigeria have different phylogenetic origins is an important aspect to consider in future decisions regarding management and conservation of rapidly shrinking lion populations in West Africa.
Tende T, Bensch S, Ottosson U, Hansson B. Dual phylogenetic origins of Nigerian lions (Panthera leo). Ecology and Evolution 2014; 4(13):2668–2674