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Archive for November 28th, 2008

Ethiopian Lions Free Kidnapped Girl

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on November 28, 2008


Even Lions are able to distinguish between good and bad, between holy and evil. Animals, at times could be more ‘humanly’ compassionate and instinctively considerate than human animals in dealing with mother nature.

This particular story reminds me of  “Daniel”, The Prophet who was cast into a den of hungry lions by Darius I of Persia. But, Daniel’s God is great, that He rescued Daniel from the hungry lions.

Police in Ethiopia say three lions rescued a 12-year-old girl kidnapped by men who wanted to force her into marriage, chasing off her abductors and guarding her until police and relatives tracked her down in a remote corner of Ethiopia.

The men had held the girl for seven days, repeatedly beating her, before the lions chased them away and guarded her for half a day before her family and police found her, Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo said from the provincial capital of Bita Genet, some 560 kilometers (348 miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa.

“They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” Wondimu said, adding he did not know whether the lions were male or female.

News of the June 9 rescue was slow to filter out from Kefa Zone in southwestern Ethiopia.

“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.

“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 that it was likely that the young girl was saved 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 (the lions) didn’t eat her,” Williams said. “Otherwise they probably would have done.”

The girl, the youngest of four brothers and sisters, was “shocked and terrified” and had to be treated for the cuts from her beatings, Wondimu said.

He said that police had caught four of the men, but were still looking for three others.

In Ethiopia, kidnapping has long been part of the marriage custom, a tradition of sorrow and violence whose origins are murky.

The United Nations estimates that more than 70 percent of marriages in Ethiopia are by abduction, practised in rural areas where the majority of the country’s 71 million people live.

Ethiopia’s lions, famous for their large black manes, are the country’s national symbol and adorn statues and the local currency. Former emperor Haile Selassie kept a pride in the royal palace in Addis Ababa.

Despite their integral place in Ethiopia culture, their numbers have been falling, according to experts, as the British driven them in masses down to neighbouring Kenya, and as farmers encroach on bush land.

Hunters also kill the animals for their skins, which can fetch $1,000, despite a recent crackdown against illegal animal trading across the country. Williams said that at most only 1,000 Ethiopian lions remain in the wild.

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Ethiopian High-Altitude Natives Are Different

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on November 28, 2008


Ethiopian high-altitude natives respond to hypobaric hypoxia differently than Andean (South America) or Tibetan highlanders.


In Ethiopia, a third successful pattern of human adaptation to high-altitude hypoxia is amazingly puzzling. In contrast with both the Andean “classic” (erythrocytosis with arterial hypoxemia) and the more recently identified Tibetan (normal venous hemoglobin concentration with arterial hypoxemia) patterns, the Ethiopian adaptation is very unique.


A field survey of 236 Ethiopian native residents at 3,530 m (11,650 feet), 14–86 years of age, without evidence of iron deficiency, hemoglobinopathy, or chronic inflammation, found an average hemoglobin concentration of 15.9 and 15.0 g/dl for males and females, respectively, and an average oxygen saturation of hemoglobin of 95.3%. Thus, Ethiopian highlanders maintain venous hemoglobin concentrations and arterial oxygen saturation within the ranges of sea level populations, despite the unavoidable, universal decrease in the ambient oxygen tension at high altitude.


The demonstration in the past 20 years that the “Andean man” model of high-altitude human adaptation does not generalize to natives of the Tibetan Plateau changed scientific understanding of human adaptation to high-altitude hypoxia. Comparisons of Andean and Tibetan high-altitude natives residing at the same altitudes [usually in the range of 3,500–4,000 m, or 11,600–13,200 feet, where partial pressure of inspired oxygen (PIO2) is 64–60% that of sea level] have revealed quantitative differences in traits associated classically with offsetting ambient hypobaric hypoxia.


For example, a hematocrit or hemoglobin concentration elevated over normal sea level values was long considered a hallmark of lifelong adaptation to high-altitude hypoxia; however, studies of Tibetans have demonstrated that it is not a necessary response to ambient hypoxia or arterial hypoxemia.


The population contrast extends to other traits as well: a comparative study reported that Andean high-altitude natives at 4,000 m had hemoglobin concentration and oxygen saturation of hemoglobin more than 1 standard deviation higher than Tibetans at the same altitude. The mean hemoglobin concentration of Tibetans was not elevated above sea level values despite very low oxygen saturation. The third major high-altitude population, natives of the Semien Plateau of Ethiopia, has not been studied for these traits.


These findings suggest there are three patterns of adaptation to high-altitude hypoxia among indigenous populations . Learning why the three populations differ will require two lines of future investigation. One is understanding the biological mechanisms and the underlying genetics that allow successful high-altitude adaptation with quantitatively different suites of traits for oxygen sensing, response, and delivery. The other is understanding the evolutionary processes that produced these patterns to explain how and why several successful human adaptations to high altitude evolved.


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