Researchers have found a small, rapidly declining population of lions in two national parks located on the border of Ethiopia and in Sudan.
To find the big cats, conservationists identified their tracks and used cameras to snap images of the lions. They were able to confirm the reports of residents who saw the lions near a national park in Ethiopia.
For the wildlife conservation community this is definitely good new, especially because ever since the early 1990s, the lion populations in some region is Africa have decreased by about fifty percent. In the following decades, the populations are expected to decline even further.
Dr. Hans Bauer, a lion specialist from the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) of the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, in the United Kingdom, said that during his professional career he had deleted one lion population after the other from the lion distribution map. This will probably be the last time that he will add another one to the map, he noted.
Researchers estimate that there are about one hundred to two hundred lions in the Dinder National Park in eastern Sudan and in Alatash National Park – which is adjacent to a much larger national park (Dinder National Park) and is located in northwest Ethiopia, on the border with Sudan.
In Sudan, lions were thought to be extinct, so the new findings are quite encouraging, the researchers said. However, it will require a lot of hard work and effort to keep the populations stable and possibly help them increase.
Because of their remote location, not many tourists visit the two parks. According to researchers, there is also not much wildlife there, perhaps because of lack of potable water (or drinking water) sources.
Bauer and his co-authors wrote in a paper – published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – that in west and central African countries, the number of lions has declined significantly. However, the declines in east Africa were lower this time – in east Arica the declines used to be a lot more abundant.
According to the researchers, lion populations in the national parks of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are probably extinct by now. On the other end of the spectrum, populations in the southern regions of the continent are stable, and some are even growing, the researchers found.
Philip Muruthi, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)’s Vice President for Species Conservation, in Nairobi, said that lions are the symbols of Africa. Healthy lion populations indicate healthy ecosystems, he added.
Image Source: awf