Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Conservationists Find 'Lost' Lion Population

Conservationists working in Alatash National Par in remote northwest Ethiopia have found a population of lions not previously known to science living in the park. Alatash is a huge region on the Sudanese border not visited often by outsiders. Lions are thought to have lived there for centuries and locals knew of their existence in the area. But the IUCN only considered Alatash a possible range for lions without any confirmed sightings. Renowned lion expert Dr. Hans Bauer and his team obtained camera images and lion tracks during an expedition supported by Born Free, the lion conservation society. The researchers also concluded that lions are living across the border in Sudan's Dinder National Park, adjacent to Alatash. Bauer concludes that densities are low due to low prey levels in an arid environment of about two lions per 100km².

IUCN lists lions as vulnerable and their numbers are estimated to have declined 50 to 70% since 1980. The species occupies only 8% of its historic range; they were thought to be extinct in Sudan. So the new information is encouraging and provides reasons for both Sudan and Ethiopia to protect the region as a lion stronghold.