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.