'Lost' Lion Population Appears at 2 Neighboring Parks in Eastern AfricaBy Russell Westerholm
A population of a Central African subspecies of lions in northwestern Ethiopia has appeared again after researchers believed them to be long gone.
According to BBC News, images of the lions surfaced on a camera trap and a team of researchers also found their footprints in the Alatash Park. The lions were believed to have disappeared in the 20th century as a result of hunting and habitat loss.
Researchers with the Born Free Foundation estimate there are about 100 lions in the park today.
"During my professional career I have had to revise the lion distribution map many times," Hans Bauer, a lion conservationist at Oxford University and the expedition's leader, told New Scientist. "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.
"While I was walking to find some trees to put the camera on, I already saw some footprints.
"That was the eureka moment when I was sure that there really are lions."
The lions also appeared in a nearby park, and their presence is a bright spot in an overall bleak outlook for Africa's lions.
"Even though the team only visited the Ethiopian side of the park because of logistics, lions were likely to exist in the larger, adjacent Dinder National Park across the border in Sudan," Mark Jones, the Born Free Foundation's program manager, told BBC News. "It is an important finding because knowing where the lions are will help us work with local people and wildlife authorities in order to improve protection and education around why lions are important and why it's important to protect them."