Large population of lions causes excitement among the conservation groups.
After years of declining populations of lions and other animals on the continent of Africa, researchers, following up on reports from local residents, have found a previously unrecorded lion population of up to 200 members, according to csmonitor.com.
Residents had reported lion activity in the area around Alatash National Park in northwest Ethiopia, on the border with Sudan, and the adjacent Dinder National Park in Sudan, so the research team set up camera traps to take pictures of any lions passing by.
Dr. Hans Bauer, who led the expedition to investigate the area, says they estimate there are between 100 and 200 lions living there, in an area where lions were thought to be extinct. Bauer said during his career, he had revised the lion distribution map an umber of times, but this was probably the first and the last time he would be adding to the map instead of removing from it.
Bauer, a lion specialist from the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University, along with the animal advocacy group Born Free and Ethiopian conservation workers said, in a paper summarizing the work, the news was welcomed in the animal conservation community. Lion populations, although stable and growing in parts of southern Africa, are dwindling in east African countries where they were once abundant. Bauer and his colleagues had previously report on the decline of lion populations in west and central Africa, and the revered animals appear to be extinct in some national parks in that area.
The lions were expected to be extinct in the Sudan as well, and finding the group there now shifts the focus to helping them stay healthy and flourishing. The team says the next step will be to communicate with the governments of Ethiopia and Sudan, and to identify the conservation steps needed to protect this lion stronghold.
Dr. Phillip Muruthi, of the African Wildlife Foundation in Nairobi, called lions the symbols of Africa, and added healthy populations of large animals are indicators of the health of the entire ecosystem. If those populations are suffering, those ecosystems will be suffering as well, continued Muruthi.