Dinder, a forgotten corner of African wilderness
In 2016, an expedition led by WildCRU’s Dr Hans Bauer ‘discovered’ a lion population in a transboundary ecosystem with two National Parks, Dinder (Sudan) and Alatash (Ethiopia). Those lions had been protected by authorities and communities for a long time; they simply went unnoticed by the international community due to its remoteness and few visitors. With support from the Born Free Foundation and the Lion Recovery Fund, Hans recently went back to survey Dinder with partners from the Sudan Wildlife Research Center. Using call-ups, they estimated a population of 157 (98-275) lions and 180 (121-297) spotted hyaenas. Due to the inaccessibility of most of this important enclave of East Sudanian savanna these are really working figures pending further research there.
Only a handful of foreigners have visited this area, infrastructure is rudimentary and working conditions are harsh. Dinder currently does not attract many tourists, but for those who want to tick off all African larger mammals there’s now a compelling reason to go: it is probably the best place to see the Heuglin’s gazelle (Eudorcas tilonura). Endemic to the Sudan-Ethiopia-Eritrea borderlands, few pictures exist of this Endangered gazelle in the wild. Another spectacular finding in Dinder was the observation of kob (Kobus kob); widespread in West and Central Africa this species had never been observed East of the Blue Nile, and this observation extends the species range by ~400km.
The team will certainly return next year, after the rains, to study the lions there and to help support the conservation of this ‘paradise regained’.