This year, seven lions were reintroduced to Rwanda, where the wild population died out a few years after the 1994 genocide.
Two males and five females were taken a 30-hour journey from South Africa to Akagera national park, a 276,800 acre area in Rwanda that borders Tanzania. The park is equipped with electric fencing and the lions with satellite collars.
Lions were wiped out in the region following the 1994 Rwanda genocide when refugees and displaced people killed the last of the lions to protect their livestock. But the endangered animal’s return symbolizes both a success for conservation and for the nation. Akagera is only about a two hour drive from Rwanda’s capital and an important tourist destination that could see a surge in popularity from the return of the lions.
As of last month, the lion is still listed as vulnerable in the world by the IUCN with the threat of wildlife trade increasing. But Akagera park provides these animals with a safe, natural habitat where they can hopefully flourish. Park officials are also working to reintroduce rhinos in Akagera, which, if successful, would be another great conservation achievement.