September 2012. The first evidence of lions in montane rain and cloud forest has been documented by NABU – The German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union. Up to now, the African lion, which is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN had only been documented and photographed outside of rainforests.
The discovery in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve in Southwest Ethiopia took place as part of NABU’s wider conservation work in Ethiopia. NABU’s images show a lioness in an area of dense montane rain and cloud forests.
“We are delighted with this news and look forward to studying these exceptional animals in their unusual habitat,” says NABU’s Vice-President Thomas Tennhardt. “To manage potential conflict with local communities, NABU will set up a dedicated conservation fund.”
Lions prefer open woodlands, and thick bush, scrub and grass land areas, which offer sufficient cover for hunting. Until now, scientists have never recorded the species in rain forest habitats. However, local people have long known about the lions in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve.
Wildlife photographer Bruno D’Amicis travelled to Ethiopia on NABU’s behalf in early 2012 in an attempt to document their presence. NABU believes that this is the first time lions have ever been photographed in montane rain and cloud forest habitat.
|Lions prefer open woodlands, and thick bush,
scrub and grass land areas, which offer sufficient
cover for hunting. Until now, scientists have never
recorded the species in rain forest habitats.
However, local people have long known about the
lions in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve.
Photo credit Bruno D’Amicis/NABU
Ethiopia’s Kafa Biosphere Reserve is characterised by its impressive afromontane moist rain and cloud forests, which are considered to be the place of origin of Arabica coffee. Apart from wild coffee, it is also home to many rare animal and plant species. Southern Ethiopia is regarded as an important migratory route for lions; it is therefore assumed that the animals are passing through the area during the dry season.
85% Africa’s lions have disappeared
African lions have lost more than 85 percent of their historic range. Recent surveys indicate that across the continent there are now just 39,000 lions left, of which up to 1,500 live in Ethiopia. Both their numbers and range have declined significantly in recent decades in Africa. Habitat loss and fragmentation due to human population growth and the reduction of prey animals, direct persecution and hunting are the primary reasons for their demise.
In line with the Regional Conservation Strategy for the Lion in Eastern and Southern Africa, the Ethiopia Wildlife Conservation Authority recently adopted a National Action Plan for lions in Ethiopia to secure and restore lion populations in the country.
NABU has worked towards the preservation of the wild coffee forests in Kafa since 2006 and supported the Ethiopian government in setting up the Kafa Biosphere Reserve. NABU has been supporting the reserve in terms of developing an effective management regime and through public awareness work since 2009. NABU is also implementing a large scale forest and climate protection project in the area within the framework of the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Environment Ministry.
NABU is Germany´s oldest and largest conservation organization.
Website : www.NABU-International.de