Lions, giraffes, zebras, and wildebeest are among the species whose numbers have plummeted on average by nearly 60 percent in protected areas in Africa.
Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File
Many of Africa's most iconic animals are disappearing from national parks at an alarming rate, according to a new study by British researchers.
Lions, giraffes, zebras and wildebeest are among the 69 species whose numbers have plummeted, on average, by nearly 60 percent in protected areas across the continent, the study shows.
Changes varied across the continent; West Africa has been hit hardest, with some large mammal populations down by as much as 85 percent.
"The thing that surprised me the most was the size of the problem in terms of how many parks this has affected," said study leader Ian Craigie of the Zoological Society of London. "It's not just one or two places."
Craigie said the stark drop in Africa's western countries can probably be chalked up to scarce resources and human interference.