A good news conservation story by Safarious.
The first lion cubs have emerged after an absence of nearly two decades at Akagera National Park in Rwanda! In June 2015 African Parks successfully relocated seven South African lions to Akagera, including five females and two males and now three more join the pride!
When you think about Conservation in Africa you probably think of a battle that is being lost. The local and international conservation headlines read desperate times for wildlife. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Good news arrived on the evening of May 12th, as Shema, one of five lionesses reintroduced to Akagera National Park in Rwanda, was spotted with three new cubs. Two of the other lionesses, sisters Umwari and Kazi are also suspected to be pregnant after mating with the dominant male, Ntwari.
Lions have not been present here since the Rwandan Genocide two decades ago. Akagera has a host of success stories, from fragile dragonflies to mighty lions. It is the oldest of Rwanda’s three national parks and the only protected Savannah region in the country. At 112,000 Hectares it is viable size for a thriving ecosystem and is home to more than 8,000 large mammals and 500 bird species. At present her wildlife populations are flourishing thanks to effective law enforcement and community engagement, and it’s not just the wildlife that is thriving, local communities are too. But it wasn’t always like this.
Plans are also in place to reintroduce black rhino, a species that has not been seen in the park for almost a decade. Canine dog units have been trained to reduce the risk of poaching and already poaching numbers on the downfall, from 180 in 2012 to just 29 in 2014.
With so much potential and a strong working relationship between locals and park management, Akagera appears to be a hotspot for conservation success. Visitor numbers grow year on year with Rwandan Nationals comprising of 50% of the visitors including school children on educational visits. With the reintroduction of rhino, Akagera will be Rwanda’s only big five national park, further enhancing the country’s appeal as an international tourism destination.