Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Dolo the lion's rescue

Dolo in 2007 © Sisay Taye
Dolo in temporary housing © George Logan

Many of Born Free Foundation’s projects and campaigns require us to be persistent, patient and prepared to commit for the long haul.  Our plans, initiated in 2006, to develop Ethiopia’s first Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Centre have required these very qualities.  However, with support from the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority and His Excellency, President Wolde-Giorgis we are now starting to bring benefit to many rescued wild animals who need our care. 

In a reflection of the virtues needed to develop Ensessakotteh, one animal in particular has demonstrated his own fortitude – Dolo.  An iconic image of this young male lion suffering helped trigger plans for the Centre (see above).  Dolo was originally held on a one metre long chain for four years before his removal to a temporary facility in Ethiopia’s Awash National Park.

Finalising the land agreement and sourcing building materials took their time, but finally, on March 22nd 2011, Dolo was moved to his new lifetime care facility at our Centre which will offer him space, shade and peace.  A large team including BF Ethiopia Project Director Stephen Brend and Vet Consultant Rea Tschopp, Born Free Foundation Founder Virginia McKenna, Programmes Director Alison Hood, Senior Vet Consultant John Knight and many more accompanied Dolo on his relocation. 

A beautiful Ethiopian sunrise welcomed this momentous day for Dolo and after being tranquilised and given a health check by Rea Tschopp, he was placed in a specially made travel crate for the 250km journey to Ensessakotteh.  An excited convoy followed Dolo back to Holeta and watched as he took his first tentative steps into his new indoor shelter and bushy sub-range.

Dolo's rescue © George Logan

Our first task is to ensure Dolo is settled in.  Sadly, when we darted him and performed a veterinary exam just prior to his move, our fears about his eyesight were confirmed.  Dolo has retinal atrophy, probably due to a nutritional deficiency when young and this has left him with very limited vision.  He must therefore get used to his new environment; a space far bigger and more complex and stimulating than anything he has experienced before.

Already he is exploring and his posture and demeanour is improving. Dolo is still a young lion and we hope that ‘Ensessakotteh’ will work its magic on him; turning him from a despondent, depressed animal on the end of a chain to a handsome male who can lay claim to his territory and who will explore the bushes and trees and find a few favourite shady spots to rest up in. 

Project Director Stephen Brend reports that “Today, his roar sounds out across Ensessakotteh, and he has space, grass under foot, peace and privacy. He can work his muscles and he can stretch up against the fence higher than he has ever been able to stretch in his life.”

Dolo in his new enclosure © George Logan

Now that we have completed the building of a secure lion enclosure; which gives consideration to the materials available, the cost and, vitally, the provision of a multifaceted environment for the lions, work will begin on the second lifetime care enclosure.  There are already several animals waiting to come to the Rescue Centre with Dolo leading the way for the lions!

Born Free Foundation would like to offer heartfelt thanks to The Cullum Family Trust, Einat Danieli and Born Free Foundation members for supporting the relocation of Dolo and the development of his enclosure - the first lifetime care enclosure at Ensessakotteh!

If you would like to help Born Free to create Ensessakotteh, please consider making a donation and read about other ways you can help here.

For more information read Project Director Stephen Brend's blog on the relocation of Dolo and a report on Dolo's welcome to Ensessakotteh.

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

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