Lions back in Rwanda after fifteen years

This video says about itself:

2 July 2015

Rwanda reintroduced lions, flown in from South Africa, to its Akagera National Park after the last indigenous animal was spotted in 2006. Five females and two males were flown in from two small South African parks.

Akagera used to be home to lions, but the last ones were poisoned by cattle owners, who had resettled in the park after the 1994 genocide.

This video takes you through the whole journey of the Big Cats from start to finish, and eventually their relocation in Akagera National Park.

Camera(video): Mutijima Abu Bernard
Photos: Rwanda Development Board (RDB)
Script & Editing: Richard Kwizera

Executive Producer: Kigali Today Ltd

From Wildlife Extra:

Lions released into the wild in Rwanda

While the news for lions in Zimbabwe this week was not good, in another part of Africa there was a good news story.

African Parks, in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board, has released seven translocated lions into Akagera National Park.

The five females, from &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, and two males, from Tembe Elephant Park, both in the South African province of KwaZulu Natal, were brought to Rwanda at the end of June in a ground-breaking conservation effort for the country, reported by Wildlife Extra.

On the day of release the gates of the quarantine boma were opened to allow the lions to exit their temporary enclosure. A waterbuck carcass was placed outside the gates to encourage them to step out into their new home.

The first female poked her nose out of the gates within a few minutes, closely followed by three other females, who looked around curiously for a while, unconvinced about their new found freedom, before the lure of the carcass proved too great.

The youngest lioness was last of the females to emerge and nervously kept her distance in nearby bushes. The two males were much more cautious and did not emerge from the boma while the park and press vehicles were there.

These are the first lions to roam Akagera National Park, and Rwanda, for almost 15 years and tourists will now have the opportunity to see the lions in the wilderness, as previously viewing was restricted to park personnel who had been monitoring the lions in the boma.

The time in quarantine has allowed the lions to adjust to their new surroundings, bond with each other, and recover from what was likely the longest wild lion translocation in conservation history, taking over 45 hours.

The lions have come from different prides; among the females are a 10-year-old mother and her one-year-old daughter, a single five-year-old female and two three-year-old sisters. The males are three and four years old and are unrelated.

The lions have been fed every two-to-three days, mainly on impala carcasses, but will now hunt for their own food.

All seven animals are fitted with satellite collars, which will allow the park management to track their movements following their release, and see whether they stay together as a pride or split up as they explore their new surroundings.

Update May 2017: the number of lions in Rwanda has increased from 7 to 14. Rhinos have been reintroduced as well.

BirdLife opens new office in Rwanda: here.

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