Researchers: ‘lost’ lions aren’t lost, just hiding

Brittany A. Roston - Feb 2, 2016, 6:25pm CST
Researchers: ‘lost’ lions aren’t lost, just hiding

African lions are, unfortunately, a ‘vulnerable’ species, with the number of members decreasing over the past few decades due in part to poaching. Since the 1980s, the population has been, at minimum, cut in half; furthermore, it was believed the lions were extinct in Sudan. Researchers have reported good news, though, having successfully found these ‘lost’ lions near the Ethiopia-Sudan border.

Born Free recently funded an expedition into the Alatash National Park in Northwestern Ethiopia where researchers placed motion-sensitive ‘deer’ cams to record any animals that passed by. This expedition was led by Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit’s Dr. Hans Bauer.

According to the foundation, few people have set foot into this massive forest, and while some have speculated that the ‘lost’ lions may have gravitated into it, they haven’t had the resources to prove it. This is until now, when Bauer and his team managed to get a couple shots of lions on their motion cameras; they also cite finding “indisputable evidence” of the lions’ presence, such as tracks.

In addition, researchers believe the lions may span the border into Sudan via the Dinder National Park. According to Bauer:

Considering the relative ease with which lion signs were observed, it is likely that they are resident throughout Alatash and Dinder. Due to limited surface water, prey densities are low, and lion densities are likely to be low, we may conservatively assume a density in the range of one to two lions per 100 km2. On a total surface area of about 10,000 km2, this would mean a population of 100-200 lions for the entire ecosystem, of which 27–54 would be in Alatash.

SOURCE: Born Free


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