Lions rescue girl kidnapped for marriage
Police 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 yesterday by telephone from the provincial capital of Bita Genet, some 560 km southwest 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, which took place in a forest on the outskirts of Bita Genet, 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 in 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.