After an absence of 15 years, lions have returned to Akagera National Park in Rwanda.
The journey for these seven lions began on the 29th of June in a truck bound from KwaZulu Natal to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. The cats were accompanied by a team of veterinarians in a chartered plane from OR Tambo to Kigali International Airport. 46 hours later, they arrived in Rwanda and were loaded into trucks and taken to a boma in the north of Akagera National Park.
Excited children and citizens serenaded the pride’s arrival, waving them on their way. Unseasonal rains also greeted the entourage on the route, making the trip a bit longer and muddier than originally expected.
The two males proved timid on release but eventually left the safety of their crates. On the other hand, the females emerged from the crates immediately and began to regroup and explore. The cats were hungry and feasted on a buffalo carcass left in the boma.
The pride will be in the boma for the next 14 days as part of a quarantine process.
The Akagera Park manager and a team of rangers are keeping a watchful eye on the regal felines. It is an exciting time for Rwanda as the return of one of the Big 5 to the park is a monumental leap for conservation and the African safari industry. Akagera National Park is managed by African Parks in partnership with the Rwanda government.
A local baboon troop was the first to discover the presence of the cats – in a series of alarm calls, they notified the rest of the park so hopefully, the buffalo, zebras and giraffes all know what’s coming, as the natural order of life is restored in Akagera.
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