While this story is not exactly brand new news it is of high importance. Having recently read and written about elephant poaching within the Ethiopian borders (posted yesterday) I was curious to see what was happening with their lion population.
It should be noted that the Central African lion population was dramatically reduced in previous decades and so was particularly low. Indeed the last survey thoughts that’s a number of Central African lions only numbered around 900.
As such it was extremely exciting for them to find a population of around 200 lions living in the Atalash national park, in the north on the border with Sudan.
Why is this exciting?
While it is true that there are thought to be be around 23000 Lions left in Africa, these are are almost entirely based in a small handful of countries.
Tanzania has 10,000 to 11,000 Lions, South Africa has 2,000 to 3,000 with Botswana hosting another 3000.
This leaves perhaps 6000 spread out across the rest of Africa. More alarming a significant portion of this 6000 exist in populations of 500 to 1000 in a small number of countries leaving a sizable percentage of Africa with no Lions whatsoever.
The asiatic lion population is faring far worse. One spread across the whole of west Africa and Northern Africa ( it is now thought that the Barbary lion is actually just and particularly large sized lion which is part of the asiatic lion population) through the Middle East with populations in Israel and Iran down into India, and up into parts of Russia. They also extended far further West with populations of lions to found in Spain as late as 800AD.
The species that we now call the Indian lion is not only Indians at all. Furthermore the fact that they squash the entire population into one small reserve and refuse to even allow any of the lions to be moved to the next-door States within the Indian subcontinent, show that the government of Gujarat is only interested in its own status and not in the protection of this once wide-ranging species. One large flood or epidemic could wipe out the world’s entire is the Asiatic lion population. We can only hope that continued pressure can force the government to see sense.
However what I’m saying is that with this latest discovery of more Lions it shows that there are actually more Asiatic lions in Central and West Africa running there so named Indian lion home country. Indeed this new population of Ethiopian Lions is about half the size of the Indian lion population as a whole. Having said that Ethiopia is also interesting, as it appears to have been the meeting point of the two lion subspecies found in Africa, and there may have been some crossover (Ethiopia was home to a now thought extinct subspecies of lions Panthera leo abyssinica though there is still much debate as to whether this race of lions were distinct enough to be their own subspecies.