A “lost” group of lions was recently discovered in Africa, raising hopes for the endangered species.
Over the past century, the total lion population in Africa has dwindled at a staggering rate: down 50 to 75 percent since 1980 alone. The remote parts of Sudan and Ethiopia are difficult to access, thereby making it difficult to survey possible lion populations in that area. However, scientists have often wondered if lions could possibly be living in these remote areas.
In November, a team led by WildCRU and supported by Born Free spent two nights in Alatash National Park in northwest Ethiopa. The team confirmed a suspected lion population did indeed exist by observing lion tracks and capturing images on camera traps. WildCRU’s report estimates that the region could be home to 100 to 200 lions, but because of the short expedition and small sample size, it’s difficult to say for sure. The scientists also believe lions live in Dinder National Park, a larger area across the border in Sudan. Because the lions are isolated from other larger lion populations, it does put them at risk for inbreeding, as well as the usual threat of poaching.
Luke Hunter, president of Panthera but not involved in this study, commented to National Geographic that the lions likely held on in that area because of the low human density. “Lions are pretty good at maintaining a foothold as long as the human pressure on them isn’t too great,” said Hunter.
Overall, this is good news for lions and adds promise that there are other lion populations living in other areas of Africa that have not been studied.
You can find the WildCRU report HERE.