The country’s tourism sector is poised for a major boost following the release into wilderness of the seven lions recently translocated from South Africa to Akagera National Park in the Eastern Province.
The lions, which include five females and two males, were brought to Rwanda late last month and have been staying in a boma within the park, from where they were being closely monitored by veterinary doctors and other employees of the park.
“Earlier today, the gates of the quarantine boma were opened to allow the lions to exit the temporary enclosure. A waterbuck carcass was placed outside the gates to encourage them to explore their new home,” reads a statement from Rwanda Development Board, under whose docket falls tourism and conservation.
“Tourists now have the opportunity to see the lions in the wilderness of Akagera, as previously viewing was restricted to park personnel who had been monitoring the lions in the boma,” continued the statement.
The five females from & Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and two males from Tembe Elephant Park, both in South Africa, were brought to Rwanda at the end of June in a ground-breaking conservation effort for the country.
“The time in quarantine has allowed the lions to adjust to their new surroundings, bond with each other, and recover from what was likely the longest wild lion translocation in conservation history, taking over 45 hours.”
According to the statement, all the seven lions are fitted with satellite collars, which will allow the park management to track their movements, and see whether they stay together as a pride or split up as they explore their new surroundings.
The lions will be given names in the “near future” and according to RDB, those who helped in the translocation process have been given the privilege to give them names.
Lions had been extinct from the park after many were killed by residents surrounding but according to RDB, a lot has been done to ensure minimal contact between animals and the communities around the park.
Last year, tourism fetched $304.9 million (about Rwf218 billion), representing a four per cent increase from the $293.6 million (about Rwf210 billion) generated in 2013.