ICI project documents lions in African rainforest region for the first time

A lioness in the forest

Picture: Bruno D' Amicis

Lions have been documented in rainforests for the first time thanks to a project conducted by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) with financing from the International Climate Initiative (ICI). A female lion was observed and photographed during project work in Ethiopia's Kafa UNESCO biosphere reserve, an area of rainforests and cloud forests. The African lion, which is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list of threatened species, had previously been documented only outside rainforests, typically in savannah. ‘We are delighted with this news and now look forward to studying these animals in their unusual habitat,’ said NABU's vice president Thomas Tennhardt. NABU is also planning to set up a fund to protect lions living in Kafa, which would support and compensate the local population in the event of attacks on domestic animals.

The Kafa biosphere reserve, the birthplace of Arabica coffee, is one of Ethiopia's last cloud-forest regions and home to many rare species of animals and plants. The ICI-assisted project helps conserve cloud forests and ensure that they are used sustainably, as well as safeguard important means of securing a livelihood and sources of income for local people. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognised Kafa as a biosphere reserve in 2010.

Experts estimate that only between 23,000 and 39,000 lions are left in all of Africa, with Ethiopia home to just 1,000 to 1,500 of them. Their distribution and numbers have fallen sharply in recent decades due to habitat loss and decline caused by a growing population and a reduction in their wild prey base.

For more information and photos of lions in the Kafa cloud forest, please visit: http://www.nabu.de/en/aktionenundprojekte/kafa/index.html