Lions Return to Akagera National Park
The lions were hypnotized before leaving South Africa for Rwanda. Seven lions including two males and 5 females from South Africa have just been reintroduced into the Akagera National Park. Some lions had been completely decimated about fifteen years ago in this savannah in eastern Rwanda following the war and the genocide against the Tutsis. Another part had been poisoned by cattle breeders who saw these beasts as a threat to their herds.
The 5 lionesses from South Africa were donated by Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and the two by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife of Tembe Elephant Park. Located in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, both are small reserves where surplus big cats are destined to be sent elsewhere like this case of Rwanda for proper management.
In Akagera National Park, the new home of these lions, they have been placed in a 1km² area to the north of the park. This space has been split into two separate enclosures, the perimeter 3m high, with an electrified fence. A water reserve has been set up and the lions will be fed for 3 to 4 days to reproduce their natural feeding pattern. They will then be quarantined for at least 14 days during which they will be continuously monitored before being released into the desert.
These lions were selected based on reproductive potential and their ability to contribute to social cohesion. These lions were captured and held in Bomas in Phinda and in Tembe Elephant Park. On June 29, they were hypnotized and placed in steel containers, and loaded on trucks to OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg in the direction of Kigali.
In addition, these lions are equipped with satellite collars that allow the Akagera park management team to monitor their movements. Another precautionary measure, the fence of the park to not allow wild animals to leave the park. These collars have a life of two years and the park team will have assessed the dynamics and evolution of these lions.
“The return of the lions to Akagera is an important step for the conservation of the park and the country. Restoring the national park to its former state of biodiversity is paramount in the conservation of African parks,” said Peter Fearnhead, African Parks CEO.
“It is important to rehabilitate the park, this return will encourage the natural balance of the ecosystem and improve the tourism product”, said Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi, the head of the directorate of tourism at Rwanda Development. Board.
Last year, as part of the preparations for the reintroduction of the lions, the Akagera Park team carried out an awareness program for the communities living around the park to promote harmonious coexistence with the lions.