Lions Lost and Found

Conservationists discovered a previously unknown population of lions in northwestern Ethiopia.

February 03, 2016

Photo: WildCRU via Born Free FoundationA camera trap photo captures a lion, probably female, in Alatash National Park

These pictures may be a tad blurry, but the information they convey couldn’t be clearer: There’s a population of lions living in Ethiopia’s Alatash National Park. The Born Free Foundation obtained camera trap photos and identified lion tracks on a recent expedition to the park, proving to the international community for the first time that the big cat roams these parts. Locals, as is usually the case, already knew, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature listed Alatash as a possible range for the animals. But before now, political instability and the remoteness of the area had prevented biologists from finding hard evidence.

The African lion has declined 50 to 70 percent since 1980 and occupies just 8 percent of its historic range, so the discovery of an unknown population is a big deal. The conservationists who made the find suspect the lions range extends across the border into Sudans Dinder National Park, and hope to work with the governments of both countries to make sure the cats are protected. Now that weve found them, lets keep 'em, too.  

Photo: WildCRU via Born Free FoundationA young male lion in Alatash National Park

Photo: WildCRU via Born Free FoundationA lion footprint

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.