Photo credit: Born Free
By Brian Clark Howard
Lions have disappeared from much of Africa, but for the past few years scientists have wondered if the big cats were hanging on in remote parts of Sudan and Ethiopia. The region’s inaccessibility and political instability have made surveys difficult.
But scientists released a report Monday documenting, with hard evidence, the discovery of “lost lions.”
A team with Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), supported by the charity Born Free, spent two nights in November camping in Alatash National Park in northwest Ethiopia, on the Ethiopia-Sudan border. The researchers set out six camera traps that capturing images of lions, and they identified lion tracks.
The scientists concluded that lions likely also live in the larger, adjacent Dinder National Park across the border in Sudan. The International Union for Conservation of Nature had previously considered the area a “possible range” for the species, and local people had reported seeing lions in the area, but no one had presented definitive evidence.
“It’s great to have confirmation of this suspected population, especially since we don’t have a lot of information on this area,” says Luke Dollar, a big cat biologist and National Geographic explorer with the Big Cats Initiative, who was not involved in the study.
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