The lions, held in cages in a park in the capital of Sudan, limp weakly in the photos and videos circulating on social media. Their bones protrude from their skin. They are clearly malnourished.

The plight of the five starving animals in Al-Qureshi Park in Khartoum has riveted global attention in recent days and drawn an outpouring of efforts to help them. But it has also brought into sharp focus the state of the African nation they call home but that can’t seem to care for them during a crucial transitional period.

The country is in the midst of political and economic turmoil after the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir in April. Because of the fragile economy, about 9.3 million of Sudan’s population of 43 million will require humanitarian assistance in 2020, according to the United Nations.

The plight of the beasts was first highlighted by Osman Salih, a Sudanese national who on Sunday visited the park. “I was shocked,” Salih wrote on Facebook, noting the state of “hunger and neglect” in which the lions lived. Salih noted that authorities had suggested they weren’t able to care for them because of a lack of resources.

Within hours of Salih’s post, Sudanese authorities, park officials and local residents responded, providing urgently needed medicine and food. One lioness died Monday. The case was publicized under the hashtag #SudanAnimalRescue.

NEW YORK TIMES