Biodiversity,  Wildlife

Help Save Recently Discovered Rare Mountain Lions in Ethiopia

For the first time, mountain lions have been discovered in the Ethiopia Kafa project area. Kafa, the birthplace of wild arabica coffee, also harbors exciting wildlife, striking landscapes and vibrant cultures.

According to the Kafa Coffee Biosphere Reserve, The German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union provided the first evidence of lions in the Montane rain and cloud forest. Until now, the African lion had only been documented and photographed outside of the rainforest.

First photo ever taken of a Forest Lion in Ethiopia ©Ioana Muntenescu/NABU

The discovery of lions in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve took place as part of the wider conservation work by our REDD partners Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, or NABU, in Southwest Ethiopia.

The African Mountain Lion is classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and needs our protection. Aqua Vita Films, in collaboration with NABU, is currently raising money to make a documentary about the newly discovered lions. Education and information are key, as the lions could be killed if they are seen as a threat to the locals.

With your help, Aqua Vita Films can make the documentary “Expedition Jungle Lion” in order to learn more about these rare lions, raise awareness of them and protect them from the bullet. You are invited to become a part of this remarkable film through Aqua Vita’s Kickstarter fund:

The following information is copied directly from the “Expedition Jungle Lion” Kickstarter page:


In the last real wilderness of Ethiopia mighty roars echo through the mountain jungle. Living here is a secret population of lions unknown to science until last year, but already they are under threat because they are feared. These forest lions truly are the ‘King of the Jungle’. Elusive yet bold, they hunt different prey, but how different are their lives from the lions of the savannah? Are they indeed an entirely new species of lion? This film will uncover the lion’s secrets.

We know very little about these lions. However one thing we do know is that over the years they have killed up to 850 livestock on the edge of the forest. Despite this, the locals never harmed these lions or shot them. That is because they respect them as they are very much part of their tradition and mythology. So when hunters were brought in to “deal” with the problem, the village elders told the farmers to mislead the marksmen to where the lions were, by giving false information about their whereabouts, so remarkably leaving not one lion killed.

It is now urgent that we document these lions before this happens again. Next time the lions may not be so lucky. We quickly need to give both the lions and the local people a voice, so to avoid a disaster. There are solutions to this problem and this film will explore these, and share it with a global audience.

We are mounting an expedition to film their behaviour, estimate how many there are, what they are hunting, their interactions with the indigenous coffee harvesters and the threats they face. Using our unique skills of wildlife filming, camera traps and field craft we will set out to reveal the true life of these mysterious lions. The film aims to help protect these lion by revealing their uniqueness and importance to our planet.

These lions are found in forests where the original coffee was discovered. The locals perform coffee ceremonies and talk of their spiritual relationship with the lion. They have a second sense, hearing a twig snap or a bird call they stop and say “The King is Here”.

Although the locals talked about lions in the forest, no-one listened to them. Last year NABU, the renowned German conservation organisation, provided the first evidence of lions in the Afro-montane rain and cloud forest. It astounded the world press, African lions had only before been recorded on savannah and thorny scrub, not living high up in remote mountain rainforests.

Lions are gravely imperiled and on the IUCN RED LIST. Habitat loss, prey depletion, hunting, and poisonings have decimated Africa’s lions. In the last 100 years, it is believed that the lion population has declined by 85% and now are extinct in 26 African countries.

These forests are also known as Ethiopia’s green lungs. They catch the rain that feeds the rivers that support the nation. They are the birthplace of Arabica coffee that first grew here 1000 years ago. Incredible bird, plant, monkey species live here along with hippo, bush pig, leopard and our secret lions.

Lions have always been revered in Ethiopia and they are on the national currency. But tolerance is changing and today the relationship with the lions is in danger of disintegrating due to the loss of lion habitat, forcing lions into farming areas. More and more kills of livestock are being reported and conservationists fear that the respectful relationship between man and lion could change for the worse. This film will reveal the special relation the locals have for the lions, despite their livestock being killed.

NABU is working with people such as Dr Hans Bauer who has 15 years experience in conservation management he first studied the lions of Cameroon. The film will highlight the importance of future research on these lions, and so protecting them.

Black-faced Vervet Monkey ©Svane Bender/NABU


EXPEDITION JUNGLE LION is an Aqua Vita Films production with the assistance of NABU Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union in Germany. NABU are working to research, protect and manage the incredible wildlife in this Biosphere Reserve and work to protect the forest people. We passionately feel that this remarkable story needs to be told!

This film will be used to inform schools, organizations, corporations, businesses and governments about the importance of these lions and why they need to be protected. We ask you to keep pledging beyond our goal, as the bigger the funding, the better the film. One aim is make a greater in depth film about these lions for international broadcast, but we cannot do this unless we get this footage first.


So why do we need your support? We are investing a lot of time and expertise in developing this film, as well as providing latest High Definition film equipment. However it is important that we raise enough funds, not just to get out there, but also, to allow us to spend the time needed to get crucial footage of these amazing rare lions. Every penny that is pledged goes 100% into the production of the film.

Our top reward gives you the opportunity to join us on our expedition for one week. The second highest an opportunity to be in the cuttingroom to see the film taking shape. However our other rewards allow you to be very much a partner in this project.

Dr Bernard Walton says, “This film can only be made with your pledge. Please look at the rewards carefully and see what you will receive by contributing to this important project. To protect these lions, we need to better understand them and to do that, we ask you to be part of this exciting project – the world’s first film on Jungle Lions!”

Thank you.




This film is ambitious but also realistic. We are experienced nature filmmakers who have worked with all the major broadcasters, such as BBC, National Geographic Channel, Animal Planet, etc. We always weigh up the challenges carefully and we are very positive about this expedition. Bernard Walton has 30 years experience in nature film production, most of that with the BBC Natural History Unit. We are working closely with German biologists and field workers who are with NABU Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union who are associated with Birdlife International. They have been working in the these forests for several years and they have assisted in the first photographs to be taken.

We currently judge that given enough time and armed with the right video capture equipment, we should be able film these lions for the very first time. Principally the more time we have out there, the greater the chances of success and the more behaviour we shall film. For this reason we encourage you to help us exceed the minimum pledge required and help give these newly discovered lions a real chance to survive in the future.

Please visit to back this project, ask a question or find out more about the film “Expedition Jungle Lion”

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