Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Rescued Lions

Lions have always been associated with Ethiopia: The Emperor Haille Selasie was called the lion of Judah; there are lions on all the coins and even the city buses are called “Anbessa” buses – Anbessa being lion in Amharic.  Ethiopian lions are famed for having black manes and some of the big males at Ensessakotteh do have these manes.

Lions are sometimes still kept as a status symbol and BFFE has rehomed three from various army camps and are aware of another being held in a police station.  Using this inherent “love” for lions BFFE is encouraging their conservation in the wild and trying to instill in people that keeping lions in captivity sends out the wrong message. 

Unlike cheetahs which appear to be poached regularly, lions seem to be caught more opportunistically, most likely because to capture a lion cub you first need to kill the mother.  Nevertheless, all the available data suggests that the wild lion population in Ethiopia is declining and becoming increasingly fragmented.


Dolo before... and after rescue

Dolo was initially rescued in 2007 having been kept for four years on a 1m long chain for 24 hours a day. With the help of the Cullum family, Einat Danieli and other Born Free supporters, EWCA and Born Free moved Dolo to a temporary home at the headquarters of Awash National Park while work on securing and developing the Rescue Centre continued.

He was then eventually moved to Ensessakotteh where he now enjoys a spacious, natural enclosure which offers peace and quiet and many shady spots under the beautiful acacia trees.

With the help of Thomson Airways and Friends of Wildlife in Guernsey, BFFE subsequently rescued a young lioness called Safia who now shares Dolo’s enclosure; providing company for both lions.


Safia before and after rescue
Safia before and after rescue

In late 2009, a report of a small lioness cub chained in a wooden shack reached BFFE. Asked to assist by EWCA, James Young (BFFE’s first country representative) travelled to Hudet in Southern Ethiopia with a EWCA representative. Stressed and angry, at seven months old, Safia was far older than BFFE had been informed and her front right foot had been damaged when children had thrown rocks at her. Safia was given a new home at Ensessakotteh and her chain removed.

Italian Lions (Andrea and Janu)

(C)BFFE and George Logan
The young Andrea and Janu... and today

In the autumn of 2006, two young orphaned lion cubs were handed to the Deputy Head of Mission and his wife at the Italian Embassy in Addis Ababa by an Italian NGO. Their early history is not clear.

As the brothers grew, it became obvious to the Italian couple that a more appropriate home was needed and Born Free was approached to try and find a solution. With the support of the Italian Deputy Head of Mission, Born Free was able to approach President Girma and with his help, the plan for the Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Centre was developed and land eventually secured.

In November 2011, with the generous help of Born Free supporters, the Italian lions, named Andrea and Janu, were relocated from their temporary enclosure in the Presidential Palace to a large naturalistic enclosure within Ensessakotteh.

Major and General

Major and general before their rescue - and their new home
Major and general before their rescue - and their new home

Three abandoned lion cubs were found by a group of soldiers in the Bale Region of Ethiopia, unsure what happened to the lions' parents, the soldiers captured the cubs.

While the two brothers survived the journey, sadly the young female escaped from the truck and was killed on the road.  When they arrived at the barracks, the cubs were put in a cage near the Battalion’s parade ground. They lived in that cage for the next 12 years until in March 2011, the army asked EWCA for help. BFFE immediately set about building them a new facility at Ensessakotteh.  

Thankfully, Born Free supporters' rapid response to our appeal meant we were able to rescue Major and General in November 2011.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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