&Beyond Donates Lions to Reverse Extinction
July 2015 - &Beyond has donated five lionesses from Phinda Private Game Reserve to Rwanda as part of an African Parks project aimed at reversing the local extinction of the species in Akagera National Park. Lions became extinct in Akagera 15 years ago, as Rwanda experienced a period of intense upheaval following the 1994 genocide, resulting in the lack of management of its national parks and the subsequent poisoning of lions by cattle herders.
&Beyond Phinda has a long history of lion conservation in South Africa. It was one of the first private game reserves in South Africa and the first in the province of KwaZulu-Natal to introduce lions, thereby extending their historical range. Since the first 13 lions were introduced in 1992 and 1993, almost 220 lions have been born on the reserve. &Beyond Phinda has helped establish other lion populations in private game reserves in the Eastern Cape, Zululand, Mpumalanga, North West and the Limpopo Province, as well as neighbouring Mozambique.
&Beyond Phinda is also proud to have been home to one of the oldest lions known outside of a zoo, a female that was introduced as an 18-month-old in May 1992 and died of injuries caused in a fight at the age of almost 20 in September 2009.
The five lionesses that we have donated were carefully selected and are very tourist-friendly, disease-free and genetically diverse. Together with the two males donated by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, they will make a very suitable founder population for Akagera National Park. Studies have shown that Phinda’s lions are the second most genetically diverse population in South Africa.
The lionesses began their journey to Rwanda earlier this week, when they were tranquilised, placed in individual crates, loaded onto trucks and driven to Johannesburg. There the animals were loaded onto a charter flight and flown to Kigali. They were then transported by road to Akagera, accompanied and monitored throughout by an experienced veterinary team. On arrival in Akagera, the lions were placed in a boma, where they will be monitored for a minimum of 14 days before being released.
We are so proud to have been part of this groundbreaking project, which involves the private sector, a non-governmental organisation and the government of Rwanda all working together for the good of conservation.
Read more here.
Translocation images courtesy of African Parks.