Seven lions in top breeding condition will be translocated this week from South Africa to Akagera National Park in Rwanda in a ground-breaking conservation initiative.
Lions became extinct in Akagera 15 years ago when the species was poisoned by cattle herders in the years following the 1994 genocide when the park was unmanaged. The lions destined for Akagera include five females donated by &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, and two males that have been donated by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife from Tembe Elephant Park.
The Rwanda-bound lions have been selected based on future reproductive potential and their ability to contribute to social cohesion. They are sub-adult females and young adult males from different genetic stock. They will be fitted with satellite collars which will enable the Akagera park management team to monitor their movements and reduce the risk of the lions breaking out into neighboring community areas.
“The return of lions to Akagera is a conservation milestone for the park and the country, says Peter Fearnhead, the CEO of African Parks, the organisation that has planned and is executing the translocation. “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.”
Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi, the Chief Tourism Officer at the Rwanda Development Board says: “It is a breakthrough in the rehabilitation of the park under the public private partnership between the Rwanda Development Board and African Parks. Their return will encourage the natural balance of the ecosystem and enhance the tourism product to further contribute to Rwanda’s status as an all-in-one safari destination.”
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