Researchers just discovered a new lion population in Ethiopia.
While locals have known about these lions for years, the confirmation of this lion population in northwest Ethiopia was a welcome surprise to the international community.
Researchers from the United Kingdom discovered this previously unknown lion population in the remote Alatash National Park, which is near the border with Sudan. Though they did not see a single lion in the flesh, they saw numerous lion tracks and captured several photographs of lions at night using trail cameras.
From the trail camera photographs, it appears as though this lion population most likely consists of the Central African lion sub-species. It is estimated that fewer than 1,000 Central African lions remain in the wild. Since their population is so small, the Central African lion sub-species recently received protection under the endangered species act from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service.
The Dinder National Park in Sudan is located directly across the border from the Alatash National Park, so it is quite possible that some of the lions in this newly discovered population live in Sudan in addition to Ethiopia.
At this time, there is no firm information on exactly how many lions live in the area. However, based on the habitat and the amount of food available in the area, it is estimated that 100-200 lions could theoretically live there.
Regardless of how many lions actually live there, this is still a welcome bit of good news for conservationists in the world.
The primary threat to this lion population is loss of habitat and conflicts with humans. Now that the international scientific community has actually confirmed that lions live in the area, the next step is to start taking sensible steps to protect the lion population.