Rwanda will see it first lions, after almost a decade, this week when seven lions will be transported from South Africa to Akagera National Park.
The 1944’s genocide witnessed the deaths of 800,000 men, women and children with a matter of few months. The after effects of the genocide saw conservation pull back its efforts to address the human toll and trauma.
As a result Akagera National Park was left unmanaged and cattle herders targeted the lions of the park with poison, according to African Parks, an organization, which is a partner in the reintroduction plan.
After 15 years Akagera National Park will witness lions roaming about in its 433 square mile grounds.
Akagera, two other parks in Zambia and one each in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi Congo and Chad, are all managed by African Parks.
African Parks is an organization dedicated to the preservation of national parks on the continent and it partners with the local bodies of each park.
Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks, is quoted as saying on the organization’s website “The return of lions to Akagera is a conservation milestone for the park and the country,” “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.”
The lions, five females and two males, have been selected by their future reproductive potential and their ability to contribute to social cohesion.
They are being donated by two small reserves in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. The reserves were witnessing a surplus in lions due to good management.
The lions started their daylong journey on Monday. They were tranquilized and taken in trucks to an airport in Johannesburg, from where they were flown into Rwanda, and then taken via road to Akagera.
At first the animals will be quarantined for a duration of two weeks before being released into the park.
Rwanda Development Board’s tourism website entices visitors with 500 bird species and encounter elephants, buffalo, zebras, olive baboons, leopards and many other animals.
According to the site the black rhino will also be reintroduced in 2015, which will reinstate Akagera’s ‘Big 5’ status.
The ‘Big 5’ animals of Africa include the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“It is a breakthrough in the rehabilitation of the park under the public private partnership between the Rwanda Development Board and African Parks,” Yamina Karitanyi, the chief tourism officer at the Rwanda Development Board, is quoted as saying.
The return of the lions “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.”