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After 15 years, lions are going to be reintroduced into Akagera National Park, Rwanda. Lions became extinct following the Rwanda genocide of 1994 when cattle herders poisoned the last remaining spices in the unmanaged park.
This month, seven lions - five females donated by &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, and two males by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife from Tembe Elephant Park, in South Africa, will be tranquilized, placed in steel crates and loaded on to a charter flight to Rwanda. They will be continually monitored by an experienced veterinary team and kept tranquilized to reduce any stress throughout their journey.
The seven have been chosen based on future reproductive potential and their ability to contribute to social cohesion, including a mix of ages and genetic makeup. On arrival in Akagera, they will be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days where they will be monitored before being released into the wild.
The reintroduction of lions in Akagera National Park is a groundbreaking conservation initiative for both the park and Rwanda.
Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.
Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.