Safe future for four rescued lions in Ethiopia!

Following the amazing response of Born Free Foundation supporters to our appeal about four magnificent, male lions in need in Ethiopia, a team from Born Free, alongside colleagues from the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA), successfully relocated the lions to Ensessakotteh, Ethiopia’s first wildlife rescue, conservation and education centre. 

In two separate operations, the specialist rescue team moved two adult male lions from the Presidential Palace in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and a further two males from a military base in Harar in Eastern Ethiopia. 

Virginia McKenna OBE, Founder Trustee of the Born Free Foundation, travelled to Ethiopia and, speaking following a meeting with His Excellency, President Girma Wolde Giorgis in Addis Ababa, said, “It is wonderful to see these majestic lions relocated to Ensessakotteh where they will be able to live out their lives in spacious natural ranges.  Our sincere thanks must go to His Excellency, President Girma whose support has enabled us to be here to witness these magnificent lions take their first steps on grass.”

On Tuesday 1st November, lions Andrea and Janu, were moved to their new home.  Originally rescued in 2006 and cared for at the Italian Embassy by Deputy Head of Mission, Marco Tornetta and his wife Chantal, these lions were given temporary refuge at the Presidential Palace in Addis Ababa while Ensessakotteh was being constructed.  Their move went smoothly under the care and attention of Veterinary Consultants, John Knight and Rea Tschopp, and other representatives from Born Free.

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

Italian lions at Ensessakotteh © George Logan/Felicity Crawshaw

The team regrouped in Addis Ababa before making the long journey to Harar where Major and General lived near an Army Parade ground.  Here, with the full support and assistance of the Ministry of National Defence, South-Eastern Command, the male lions were darted and made ready for their 16 hour journey to Ensessakotteh.  Originally found abandoned as cubs in the wild by a group of soldiers, Major and General had been kept at the army base for 13 years.

Major and General before rescue © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Major and General before rescue © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Major and General being rescued © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Major and General being rescued © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Arriving at Ensessakotteh, Born Free Ethiopia’s Project Director, Stephen Brend said, “Two huge black-maned adult lions, the army could no longer manage them.  They requested EWCA’s help in rehoming them and EWCA subsequently asked Born Free to assist.  It took over three months to build a spacious and secure home for them and I am delighted we were able to complete the work on time to give them a wonderful early Christmas present.”

Major and General at Ensessakotteh © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Major and General at Ensessakotteh © George Logan / Felicity Crawshaw

Yeneneh Teka, Director of Wildlife Development and Protection Directorate at EWCA, expressed his heartfelt appreciation for all the team members who participated in the successful relocation of these four lions, “I would particularly like to thank Born Free Foundation for their concerned commitment to helping Ethiopia in its endeavours to fight illegal trafficking of live wild animals including lion and cheetah cubs. I would further like to offer my sincere gratitude to the Ministry of National Defense, South-Eastern Command, for co-operating in this relocation operation right from the beginning in May 2011.”

Summing up the challenging four days, Senior Vet Consultant John Knight said “Both moves have gone incredibly well, with everyone in the team playing their part, resulting in a smooth transfer of both sets of animals.  A clinical examination shows they are all very healthy and in good physical condition, despite their unfortunate starts in life.  They should do well in their new home.”

Major and General and Andrea and Janu have joined two other rescued lions, Dolo and Safia, and six rescued cheetah at Ensessakotteh.  With public support from people all over the world, Born Free has committed to caring for these animals for the rest of their lives.

Born Free Foundation is so pleased to have been able to provide these two sets of brothers with the care and space they need.  However, funds are still urgently needed to help care for and feed these magnificent lions for the rest of their lives.  If you would like to contribute to Ensessakotteh and the animals Born Free cares for, you can make a donation here >

Or show you care this Christmas by buying a practical present, one of Born Free’s “Gifts in Kind” or adopt Dolo, the first rescued lion to be brought to Ensessakotteh.

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7 comments on “Safe future for four rescued lions in Ethiopia!

  1. Brenton on said:

    Wonderful news. I have been waiting to hear about the transfers. Excellent that the Lions are in good physical health. It must be marvellous for the lions to have space and to be able to move freely in the fresh air. It would be great to read about how the lions reacted to their new surroundings?

  2. Keighley-Ann on said:

    Wow…truly fantastic news to read…I am so happy to hear that they have been transferred successfully and have been waiting to hear the news since you first mentioned them! Animals never cease to amaze me, they are remarkable souls, and it is very rare that people make an impression…however, to the team at Born Free Foundation and all those who assisted, you are wonderful and have done something life saving for these animals. I am inspired today :)

  3. bornfree on said:

    Hi Brenton, thanks for your comment – we will be reporting further on how the lions reacted in due course. I can tell you though that the Italian lions (Andrea and Janu) are settling in well, exploring and marking their new territory. Major and General are rather more nervous but we do feel that over coming days and weeks their confidence will grow and they will become more exploratory. We need to bear in mind that those two particular brothers have been in a caged environment away from natural vegetation for 12 years and this is their very first experience of grass under their paws so it may take a little while for Ensessakotteh to become home.

  4. bornfree on said:

    Thank you Keighley-Ann, your support is so appreciated! We’re so pleased to be able to inspire you, we never fail to be inspired by our supporters – you enable Born Free to undertake this vital work and it is much appreciated. :)

  5. I can only say – wonderful, wonderful, news. These are such magnificent looking lions and they deserve to be cage-free to feel the Earth on their feet and the Sun on their bodies. Yes, please keep us posted and more photos would be great!

  6. So few rays of light break through the canopy of dark clouds that covers wildlife welfare. This is a bright spot indeed. Kudos to All who were involved at every level including supporters. Also, a tremendous thanks for the magnificent photographs.

  7. chantal Tornetta on said:

    I am so happy to see Andrea and Janu in such a good condition!I do remenber the first day they arrived in my house ,so tiny,still with blue eyes and a lot of digestion problems!they were so small ,1 kg each! but they grew well and when we “delivered” them to President Girma palace they were two 7 months old magnificient and healthy cubs .we hope to be able to visit them next year

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