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Lions return to Rwanda

One of the female lions being translocated to Rwanda. Photo by: Matthew Poole.

One of the female lions being translocated to Rwanda. Photo by: Matthew Poole.

After 15 years, the roar of lions will once again be heard in Rwanda. Today the NGO, African Parks, will begin moving seven lions from South Africa to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park. It was here that Rwanda’s last lions were poisoned by cattle herders after the Rwandan genocide left the park wholly unmanaged.

“The return of lions to Akagera is a conservation milestone for the park and the country,” said Peter Fearnhead, the CEO African Parks. “Restoring national parks to their former biodiversity state is a key deliverable of the African Parks conservation model and we, in conjunction with our Government partner, the Rwandan Development Board, are delighted to have been able to reintroduce one of the key species to this beautiful national park.”

Five female lions have been donated by &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and two male lions from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife from Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province.

The journey from South Africa to Rwanda will take 26 hours in total, including a flight from Johannesburg to Kigali.

Africa’s lions are in deep trouble. Recent research has found that the continent’s lion population has plunged about 68 percent in just 50 years. Lions are vanishing due to habitat loss, a widespread decline in prey, and human-wildlife conflict, including mortalities from poisonings and spearing. Trophy hunting poses an additional risk in some countries. Current estimates of Africa’s lion population ranges from 20,000-40,000.

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