September 20, 2005

Lions kill 20 peasants in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Lions disturbed by deforestation
have killed 20 people and devoured 750 of their domestic
animals in Ethiopia, a local news agency said on Tuesday.

The rare daylight attacks, all during August and in the
remote south, have forced a thousand peasant farmers to flee
their homes and sparked a hunt for the lions, local official
Tadesse Gichore told Walta Information Service.

"The lions killed shepherds tending cattle and villagers
after breaking into their houses," Tadesse said of the attacks
near his Soro district some 500 km (300 miles) south of the
Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

"Thousands of people who felt threatened left their abodes
and fled to safe areas after the lions killed 20 persons as
well as 750 domestic animals last month."

Authorities were hunting the lions, who began roaming after
deforestation disrupted their habitat and caused drought along
the Gibe River Valley, Tadesse said.