A 12-year-old girl was snatched by four men on her way home from school early in June.
A week later, kidnappers were moving her with police in pursuit when three lions encountered the group and chased the men off, local police said.
The lions stayed with the girl without harming her, before departing as police searching for her came near.
Sergeant Wondmu Wedaj told the media from Bita Genet, some 560 kilometres (348 miles) south-west of the capital, Addis Ababa, that they found the girl alive but shocked and terrified.
"They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest," the policeman said.
The girl told the police she had been beaten by her kidnappers, but no harm was done to her by the lions.
An Ethiopian wildlife expert said the lions may have spared the girl because her crying may have sounded like the mewing sound from a lion cub.
unfortunately no pictures could be taken
Source : BBC database archives : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4116778.stm