Monday, October 03, 2005

Ethiopian Lions and a Young Girl

Co-evolution? Spiritual communication between species?

Africa is full of mystery, overflowing with wildlife, and nature has a passion and energy that seems to be more intense than in other continents. The bond--as well as the struggle--between the human kingdom and the animal kingdom seems unusual there as well. When I read this article it fascinated me, and I cross-checked it with another article that said basically the same thing--it confirmed that a young girl had been found, apparently being protected by lions. Co-evolution is essentially about behavorial communication signals between different species. An evolutionary leap occurs when the species develop a new relationship or interaction based on a transformation in the response to communication signals. The lions heard the girl's whimpers, and instinctively chased away her attackers. I suppose I'm not really talking about co-evolution, but rather a unique instance of inter-species communication. Homo sapiens sapiens has the ability to domesticate, but what about circumstances where communication between the animal kingdom and the human occur spontaneously, from the animal side to the human side? Would that all young girls--or young boys for that matter--could have the protection of fierce, wild lions when they're threatened by human sexual predators...

African lions protect abducted girl, fend off attackers

By Anthony Mitchell, Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - A 12-year-old girl who was abducted and beaten by men trying to force her into a marriage was found being guarded by three lions who apparently had chased off her captors, a policeman said Tuesday.

The girl, missing for a week, had been taken by seven men who wanted to force her to marry one of them, said Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo, speaking by telephone from the provincial capital of Bita Genet, about 350 miles southwest of Addis Ababa.

She was beaten repeatedly before she was found June 9 by police and relatives on the outskirts of Bita Genet, Wondimu said. She had been guarded by the lions for about half a day, he said.
"They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest," Wondimu said.

"If the lions had not come to her rescue, then it could have been much worse. Often these young girls are raped and severely beaten to force them to accept the marriage," he said.
Tilahun Kassa, a local government official who corroborated Wondimu, said one of the men had wanted to marry the girl against her wishes.

"Everyone thinks this is some kind of miracle, because normally the lions would attack people," Wondimu said.

Stuart Williams, a wildlife expert with the rural development ministry, said the girl may have survived because she was crying from the trauma of her attack.

"A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub, which in turn could explain why they didn't eat her," Williams said.

Ethiopia's lions, famous for their large black manes, are the country's national symbol and adorn statues and the local currency. Despite a recent crackdown, hunters also kill the animals for their skins, which can fetch $1,000. Williams estimates that only 1,000 Ethiopian lions remain in the wild.

The girl, the youngest of four siblings, was "shocked and terrified" after her abduction and had to be treated for the cuts from her beatings, Wondimu said.

He said police had caught four of the abductors; three were at large.

Kidnapping young girls has long been part of the marriage custom in Ethiopia. The United Nations estimates that more than 70 percent of marriages in Ethiopia are by abduction, practiced in rural areas where most of the country's 71 million people live.


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