Ethiopia's 'Iron Lion Zion' cats fading fast

Conservationists estimate there are, at most, 1,000 lions left in the wild in Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous nationEthiopia’s black-maned lions once represented a former emperor, “Lion of Judah” Haile Selassie, and were immortalised in a song by reggae legend Bob Marley. A booming human population, widespread habitat destruction and growing livestock numbers mean the animal that once graced Ethiopia’s flag — and is still a potent symbol for Rastafarians through the song ‘Iron Lion Zion’ — is on the wane. “There were lions everywhere in Ethiopia, but their habitat is shrinking,” said Zelealem Tefera, country head of the Born Free Foundation, a conservation group. In decline across Africa, lions have been put on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “red list” of threatened species, but Ethiopia’s rare lions — seen as unique though debate continues over their DNA — are even more vulnerable.

Share this article