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11-Aug-2017 10:22

The latest indication of wildlife recovery in Gabon is a solitary male lion captured on a remote video camera that was set up to study chimpanzees.Nobody knows how he got there, or why he’s chosen the forest as his home.In the meantime, the lion of Gabon walks the forest paths alone—an outlier in so many ways, but a hopeful sign that the remarkable dispersal of the past might happen again.and was confirmed at the Berlin Conference of 1884–85.Nobody knows how he got there, or why he’s chosen the forest as his home. A colleague at Gabon’s national park agency called Henschel on the phone with an intriguing request: He had some grainy images from a remote video camera set up to study chimpanzees.Twelve years ago, biologist Philipp Henschel trekked 300 kilometers through the savannas and forests of southern Gabon searching for signs that its once abundant lion population remained. Could Henschel come to his office and take a look at them?Its borders with Cabinda, Cameroons, and the Congo Free State were established by treaties over the next decade.

“We’re hoping that natural re-colonization will occur,” Henschel says.

They probably arrived about 18,000 years ago, when ice sheets covered much of the northern hemisphere and the climate in West Africa was drier, the grasslands more extensive, and the rainforest more contained.

Historic and genetic evidence suggests that as the rainforest retreated, lions and a handful of other savannah species moved up from the south.

After Gabon’s independence from France in 1960, citizens armed with shotguns did as well.

As hunters wiped out buffalo, hungry lions turned to cattle, and angry ranchers poisoned them.

“We’re hoping that natural re-colonization will occur,” Henschel says.They probably arrived about 18,000 years ago, when ice sheets covered much of the northern hemisphere and the climate in West Africa was drier, the grasslands more extensive, and the rainforest more contained.Historic and genetic evidence suggests that as the rainforest retreated, lions and a handful of other savannah species moved up from the south.After Gabon’s independence from France in 1960, citizens armed with shotguns did as well.As hunters wiped out buffalo, hungry lions turned to cattle, and angry ranchers poisoned them.Young lions often leave their natal home in search of new territory and mates, roaming hundreds of kilometers if necessary.