South Africa Donates 7 Lions To Rwanda

Cape Town – Seven South African lions were expected to arrive in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park  on Tuesday afternoon, 30 June, after they were flown to this East African country from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Monday, 29 June.

The transfer of the lions is a project run by the Rwanda Development Board in partnership with African Parks – and hopes to re-introduce lions to the Akagera National Park, where they were wiped out about 15 years ago.

Five lionesses have been donated from & Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and two lions have been donated by Tembe Elephant Reserve, an Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife protected area.

On arrival at the Akagera park, the group of lions will remain in a specially-erected 10 800 square foot boma, which is split into two separate enclosures and surrounded by a three-meter-high fence. The lions will stay in the boma for at least two weeks before they are released into the Park. They will be monitored with satellite collars. 

According to African Parks, the previous lions went extinct in Rwanda after its parks were left umanaged following Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and cattle herders poisoned the last of its lions.

Sarah Hall, Tourism & Marketing Manager for Akagera Management Company, told Traveller24 that the park will ensure the new lions will not suffer the same fate as their predecessors, where mismanagement led to their extinction.

“The park has been fenced with a 120km electrical fence, funded by the Government of Rwanda, and is patrolled daily by a team of 42 fence attendants,” Hall said.

“There has [also] been a large scale community sensitization program over the last one-and-a-half years, alerting local people to the reintroduction plans, the importance of lions in conservation and for tourism,” she said. 

Hall said that living conditions for the new lion additions will be more than sufficient.

“Aerial census’ conducted over the past five years have shown good growth in prey populations and reintroducing lions to the park will bring ecological balance as well as increase tourism to the park.”

Rwanda is mostly known for its majestic mountain gorillas, which are also the mainstay of Rwandan wildlife tourism.