TIME animals

Lions Thriving Again in Rwanda After Being Wiped Out 15 Years Ago

rwanda lion
Stephanie Aglietti—AFP/Getty Images A lion brought from South Africa walks in Akagera National Park in the east of Rwanda on July 1, 2015, after being reintroduced.

A pride of lions from South Africa introduced into the wild are doing well, a conservation group reports

A pride of lions is thriving in the wild in a Rwandan national park, according to a conservationist group that introduced the animals back into the country 15 years after they were hunted to local extinction.

Lions died out after the Rwandan civil war and the subsequent genocide of the early 90s, National Geographic reports, often poisoned by returning refugees settling in Akagera National Park and other protected lands who were determined to protect their livestock from the predators.

Akagera is serviced by African Parks, a conservation group tasked by the Rwandan government with restoring and managing the park. The space provides a habitat for jumpstarting the country’s wild lion population, from 0 to 6.

Rwanda’s new pride consists of four females, donated by the Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa, and two males, volunteered by the same country’s Tembe Elephant Park. The conservationists at Akagera have faced some criticism for failing to source East African lions for introduction into Rwanda. But according to African Parks regional manager Andrew Parker, it’s difficult finding lions whose genes match up perfectly for reintroduction.

“Securing lions from East Africa would certainly have been first prize,” Parker said. “But after spending more than 12 months investigating possibilities and trying to secure lions out of east Africa, and given the subtle genetic distinctions, we decided to move forward in the name of progress, and of conservation of lions.”

The lions made the 2,000-mile journey to Rwanda in June, the longest distance wild lions had ever been moved in Africa. They were greeted by thousands of people eager to catch sight of the pride.

[National Geographic]


Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team