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Photos of emaciated lions spark campaign to save them

Osman Salih's photographs brought attention to the plight of the five lions at Al-Qureshi Park in Khartoum, Sudan.
SUDAN-ANIMALS
A malnourished lioness sits in her cage at the Al-Qureshi Park in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Jan. 19.Ashraf Shazly / Getty Images

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/ Source: TODAY
By Drew Weisholtz

Pictures of malnourished lions in Sudan have sparked a movement to help the animals.

Photos of five lions at Al-Qureshi Park in the capital city of Khartoum show how thin the creatures are and have inspired an advocate to launch a campaign called #SudanAnimalRescue to save them.

Osman Salih saw the lions over the weekend, leading him to start the effort on their behalf.

“After seeing the fires in Australia kill so many precious creatures recently seeing these animals caged and be treated this way made my blood boil,” he wrote in a Jan. 18 Facebook post alongside some photos of the lions, which show how thin they are.

“I would like to inform you that we have contacted the park administration and they indicated to us that the wildlife police are responsible for these animals and their care and cleanliness and that they were constantly preparing their food but stopped for a while,” he wrote.

“After seeing the fires in Australia kill so many precious creatures recently seeing these animals caged and be treated this way made my blood boil,” wrote Osman Salih, who first brought attention to the lions by sharing photos over the weekend.Ashraf Shazly / Getty Images

“The park holds the wildlife police directly responsible for the deteriorating condition of the lions, and stated that the income of the park for a month is not enough to feed one lion for a week.”

“The issue is not simply food but most importantly the animals need detailed and special treatment to rid them of infections and issues probably brought about from infested meat and poor diet,” Salih added.

Salih's posts have helped call attention to the plight of lions.Ashraf Shazly / Getty Images

Officials at Al-Qureshi Park say food has become more difficult to obtain due to the country’s economic woes.

“Food is not always available so often we buy it from our own money to feed them,” park manager Essamelddine Hajjar told global news agency Agence France-Presse.

One of five sick lions at the park.Ashraf Shazly / Getty Images

Since his initial post, Salih has shared multiple updates, along with photos and videos, of the lions.

On Monday, he revealed that one of the lions had died.

"I regret to inform you that the sick female lion has died," he wrote. "The other female is getting better and the male is OK."

On Tuesday, he shared a clip of a lioness eating some meat after receiving medical attention.

"Best video of the day, after Lioness finished morning treatment was able to eat the minced meat we got her," Salih wrote.

Over the weekend, Salih revealed that efforts to help the animals had already gained traction.

"Best news of the day was the willingness of FOUR PAWS International to send an emergency rescue to rehabilitate the animals not only at Qurashi zoo but other parks in Sudan as well as train staff at wildlife authority," he wrote.

On its Facebook page, Four Paws International wrote in a Jan. 20 comment: "We are aware of the situation. We try to find out more and see if we can help." In a follow-up comment on Jan. 21 — as news of the lions' plight continues to spread — the Vienna, Austria-based organization commented that "at this moment, we cannot communicate or confirm anything."

The health of lions in Africa is a serious one. The African Wildlife Foundation reports their population has decreased by 43% over the last two decades and the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies them as “vulnerable.”