An expedition by the University of Oxford’s Conservation Research Unit confirmed the existence a small population of lions in a remote national park on the border of Ethiopia and Sudan. This discovery comes as exciting news as many African lions are expected to disappear within decades.
Hans Bauer, a renowned lion conservationist working for Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit made the discovery in an expedition to Alatash National Park, a huge region that very few people have visited.
He noticed some footprints while he was walking to find some trees to put the camera on, which he said it was the eureka moment that ensure him there really were lions in the area as some locals reported. To catch the lions on camera, Bauer and his team set up camera traps on a dry river bed.
“During my professional career I have had to revise the lion distribution map many times,” says Hans Bauer, who led the expedition. “I have deleted one population after the other. This is the first and probably the last time that I’m putting a new one up there.”
In a paper summarizin Dr. Bauer findings, the researchers estimate that there are 100 to 200 lions living in Alatash National Park in northwest Ethiopia, on the border with Sudan, and he hopes the population spreads to the adjacent Dinder National Park in Sudan.
Bauer add that due to limited surface water, prey densities are low, and lion densities are likely to be low. The researchers estimate a density in the range of one to two lions per 100 square kilometers (38.6 square miles).
Even though we might consider these numbers are pretty low, the smallest amount of new lion population discover means a big step in the specie preservation, especially in Ethiopia, whose government is a significant conservation ally, Bauer said.
Lion numbers are estimated to have declined 50% to 75% since 1980 and the species only occupies 8% of its historic range across the continent. They were thought to be locally extinct in Sudan.
Source: Wildlife Conservation Research Unit