Lions have returned to Rwanda for the first time since the endangered animal was wiped out following the country’s 1994 genocide.
Seven lions,two males and five females were transported in a 30-hour journey from South Africa, first by air, then road to Rwanda’s eastern Akagera national park.
Akagera park’s director, Jes Grüner said that this move was a huge conservation milestone and a fantastic beginning for lions in Rwanda.
Lions in Rwanda were wiped out in the years following the 1994 genocide, which left an estimated 800,000 people dead. Fleeing refugees and displaced people occupied part of the park, with the lions being driven out as people tried to protect their lives and livestock.
The return of lions symbolises more than a conservation success. “We are excited as a nation,” said Yamina Karitanyi, head of tourism and conservation at the Rwanda Development Board. “We are proud to welcome the lions.”