A National Geographic explorer spotted the adult black mane lion on a recent expedition to Bale Mountains National Park.
By Jason Bittel (National Geographic) |
What would you do if you suddenly ran into the king of beasts on a dark road in Ethiopia? Scream? Run? Faint?
Şekercioğlu, a National Geographic Explorer and ornithologist at the University of Utah, recently traveled to the Bale Mountains National Park to study the long-term effects of climate change on birds. On the long drives between birding sites, he also conducted mammal road surveys.
Ethiopian lions, known for their unusually black manes, were feared extinct until a population of around 50 were rediscovered in 2016. Because few scientists have studied these big cats, it’s unclear if they—and another group of a hundred or so lions across the border in Sudan—represent a separate subspecies.
Şekercioğlu says it took a lot of willpower to keep the camera steady through the open window when the male lion approached within a few feet of his vehicle.
“Part of me was thinking, ‘This is great footage, and I have to keep still,’” he says. “The scientist part of my brain was super excited, but the regular person part just wanted to get out of there.”
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