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.
“They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” sergeant Wondimu Wedajo said, adding he did not know whether the lions were male or female.
News of the rescue was slow to filter out from Kefa Zone in south-western 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,” Wondimu said. “Everyone thinks this is some kind of miracle, because normally the lions would attack people.”
Stuart Williams, a wildlife expert with the rural development ministry, said it was likely 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 the lions didn’t eat her,” Stuart said.
The girl was shocked and terrified; she was treated for the cuts from her beatings. Police had caught four of the men. 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 more than 70% of marriages in Ethiopia are by abduction, practiced in rural areas where the majority of the country’s 71 million people live.
Sometimes humans are nothing more than animals.
Source: Vegetarian Friend