24 October, 2012
A team of international researchers, which included WildCRU’s Markus Gusset and Carlos A. Driscoll, has provided the first comprehensive genetic evidence that the Addis Ababa lion in Ethiopia is genetically unique and is urging immediate conservation action to preserve this vulnerable lion population.
While it has long been noted that some lions in Ethiopia have a large, dark mane, extending from the head, neck and chest to the belly, as well as being smaller and more compact than other lions, it was not known until now if these lions represent a genetically distinct population. The team of researchers has shown that captive lions at the Addis Ababa Zoo in Ethiopia are, in fact, genetically distinct from all lion populations for which comparative data exist, both in Africa and Asia. The researchers compared DNA samples from 15 Addis Ababa Zoo lions (eight males and seven females) to lion breeds in the wild. In their study, the team of researchers recommends establishing a captive breeding programme as a first step towards conserving this unique lion population.
The article 'A genetically distinct lion (Panthera leo) population from Ethiopia' appears in the European Journal of Wildlife Research. The article can be viewed at http://www.springerlink.com/content/046h10rr1kx0276j/.
Ethiopian Lion at Addis Ababa Zoo