Conservationists are rejoicing at the discovery of a previously unknown lion population along the Ethiopia-Sudan border. The king of the beasts is threatened with extinction in many African regions.
An Abyssinian Lion rescued from captivity at an early age, is pictured in the Ethiopian chapter of Born Free
A previously unknown lion population has been discovered in Alatash National Park in northwestern Ethiopia. An international research group led by Hans Bauer, a conservationist from Oxford University, confirmed the discovery following local reports of big cat footprints.
The research group managed to take photos of the lions using camera traps, said Bauer, speaking from Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. The researcher believes the lions may also reside in neighboring Dinder National Park in Sudan.
100 to 200 lions
The relative ease with which the lions were found indicates that up to 200 of the majestic animals live in the area, said Bauer. Between 27 and 54 of that population likely live in Alatash. Ethiopia's famous black-maned lions once represented a former emperor, "Lion of Judah" Haile Selassie, and reggae legend Bob Marley immortalized them in a song.
Animal conservation group Born Free called the discovery "hugely important," as the African lion population has plummeted to dangerously low numbers in recent decades. The population more than halved from 500,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to under 200,000 in 1950. Today, around 20,000 of the big cats still prowl the plains of the continent, mainly in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
se/rb (afp, ape)