Tigrai Online, Oct. 12, 2012
A study has found that captive lions in Ethiopia are genetically distinct from all other lions of Africa.
The Ethiopian lions have distinctive dark mane and are slightly smaller and more compact than other African lions, and DNA analysis has revealed that Ethiopian lions are of distinct breed.
A Scientist from the University of York, Michael Hofreiter, said of the DNA tests on 15 of the 20 Ethiopian lions kept in Addis Ababa Zoo have revealed that they form a separate genetic group from the lions of east Africa and southern Africa. He said that the male lions are the last lions in the world to possess the distinctive dark brown mane. They are the direct descendants of a group of seven males and two females taken from the wild in 1948 for Haile Sellassie's own zoo.
According to him, a comparison with other populations of wild lions living in the Serengeti of Tanzania in East Africa and the lions of the Kalahari Desert of South-West Africa found that the Addis Ababa lions are quite separate genetically. Dr Hofreiter also said the study team believes that "the Addis Ababa lions should be treated as a distinct conservation management unit and are urging immediate conservation actions, including a captive breeding program, to preserve this unique lion population.