It’s not often we get to report on an increase in lion populations, but today is a day for happy news, as the University of Oxford’s Conservation Research Unit announced recently that they have discovered a “new” pride of some 200 lions living in Alatash National Park in Ethiopia. A team lead by Hans Bauer found the pride after spotting paw prints while placing cameras in a dry creek bed in hopes of catching sight of the rumored group.
While the big cats have been listed as “vulnerable” by the World Wildlife Fund for years, the species has only just come under the protection of the Endangered Species Program here in the United States. Due to a loss of habitat and prey, and the increase in human-lion violence, the population of lions in the wild has decreased sharply. According to New Scientist, there are only about 20,000 lions left in the wilds of Africa, and they expect to see that population continue to drop in the coming years, perhaps even halving by 2036. Finding a new pocket of the cats living peacefully and somewhat protected within a national park is huge news for the environmental community.
“During my professional career I have had to revise the lion distribution map many times. 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,” Bauer told New Scientist.
We don’t get to celebrate news about wildlife very often, so I have to say there’s a small part of me that wants to watch The Lion King and maybe reenact the Pride Rock scene with my cat, but I’m not going to because I’m an adult. Instead I’m going to do some more reading and find out more about these incredible cats and what environmentalists are doing to save them.
HT: New Scientist
Image via BBC/Born Free Foundation