The king of the jungle has returned to Rwanda

Kigali, 3 July 2015

123Rwanda reached a major conservation milestone this week as it reintroduced lions to the country after more than a decade of being absent. The five females and two males were donated by &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Reserve in South Africa. The big cats, selected for their reproductive capacity and genetic diversity, could see their first cubs born on Rwandan soil within one year.

“As we welcome back the lions to Akagera National Park, we celebrate a great advance in the Rwanda’s tourism and conservation journey,” said RDB’s Chief Tourism Officer, Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi.

Akagera Management Company board member and leading conservationist, Michel Masozera, said: “The reintroduction of lions to Rwanda is testament to the government's commitment to conservation.”

John Mugabo, the mayor of nearby Kayonza District, said that the people of the district are ecstatic about the re-introduction of lions: “We welcome the lion’s return after a long absence from the park. As a community, we are now aware of what is required to conserve and protect the lions and the park in general.”

The lions will be quarantined and monitored by a team of veterinarians for at least 14 days before being released into the wilderness of Akagera. The park has installed electric predator proof fencing around the park and improved law enforcement within the park to prevent human wildlife conflict and poaching.

Akagera, located in Rwanda’s east, is the country’s most visited national park with more than 28,000 visitors annually. In recent years, it has seen a significant growth in its animal population, a major determinant in reintroducing the lions. According to the last census conducted in 2013, Akagera is home to approximately 100 elephant, 2,500 buffalo, 1,500 impala, 1,000 hippopotamus, 1,000 waterbuck, 1,000 zebra, 60 giraffe and 90 roan antelope.

Akagera Park Manager, Jes Gruner thanked sponsors &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Reserve in South Africa for generously donating lions to Akagera and Turbo King Rwanda who supported the transporting of lions from South Africa to Rwanda. He concluded by saying that the lions would be well looked after.

To view photos of the lion’s journey to Rwanda, visit www.flickr.com/rdbrwanda.