Recently, the Germany-based Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) reported that they, for the first time, successfully have documented African lions in the rainforest. As part of their conservation work in Ethiopia NABU-people were able to observe and photograph a lioness in the UNESCO Kafa Biosphere Reserve, a rainforest and cloudforest area. To date, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species the African lion (Panthera leo leo) is classified as vulnerable and could only be documented outside of rainforests.
NABU is planning to set up a fund for the protection of lions living in the Kafa reserve, which will support and compensate the local population in the case their production animals are attacked by lions.
The savannah is the preferred habitat of the lions. According previous prevailing knowledge lions are not permanent residents in moist forests. This can now be refuted by NABU. The presence of lions in southwestern Ethiopia in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve has been observed continuously by the people living there. To answer the question whether there really are lions as permanent residents in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve, the wildlife photographer Bruno D’Amicis was mandated by the NABU to lead a photo expedition, early 2012. To the knowledge of NABU, his recordings are the first successful documentation of the ‘King of the jungle’ in a real jungle, a rainforest.
The Kafa Biosphere Reserve is distinguished by its montane rainforests that are considered as the source region for Arabica coffee and also home to many rare wild animal and plant species. Since the south of Ethiopia is considered an important migration route for lions of East and Central Africa, it is assumed that the animals were just passing through the region during the dry season.
Across Africa, according to expert estimates, there are only about 23,000 – 39,000 lions left, while in Ethiopia just not more than 1,000 to nearly 1,500 lions live. Their distribution and their population size has fallen sharply in recent decades, caused by the loss and the reduction of their habitat due to the increasing population and the decline of prey. Early this year, based on the conservation strategy for lions in eastern and southern Africa, the Ethiopia Wildlife Conservation Authority, adopted a national action plan to improve living conditions for the endangered lions in Ethiopia.
Founded in 1899, NABU is one of the oldest and largest environment associations in Germany. NABU has been campaigning since 2006 for the conservation of wild coffee forests in Kafa and has supported the government in the establishment of the Kafa Biosphere Reserve.
(Source: NABU Press Release, 07.08.2012)