Returning lion to Rwanda after a 20-year absence

9 lions were relocated from South Africa to Malawi, re-introducing the species to Akagera National Park after a 20-year absence


African Parks; Rwandan Development Board, andBeyond Phinda


We were proud to be apart of the ground-breaking conservation initiative for both the park and the country of Rwanda, in translocating seven lions from South Africa as part of the reintroduction of the species into Akagera National Park in Rwanda. Lions became extinct in Akagera 20 years ago when numbers of the species were poisoned by cattle herders in the years following the 1994 genocide when the park was unmanaged.

Five females were donated by &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and two males by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife from Tembe Elephant Park. Both reserves are relatively small, confined reserves where it is necessary to remove surplus lions. The animals were carefully selected based on future reproductive potential and their ability to contribute to social cohesion: young adults, sub-adult females and young adult males from different genetic stock.

The translocation entailed the lions being tranquilised, placed in individual, steel crates, and loaded on to trucks for their journey to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. At the same time, they were fitted with satellite collars which enables the Akagera park management team to monitor their movements and reduce the risk of the lions breaking out into neighbouring community areas.

The lions were then immediately loaded on to a charter flight and flown to Kigali, Rwanda. Our veterinary team carefully monitored the lion throughout the journey. Upon arrival in Rwanda, the precious cargo was driven to Akagera National Park where they were then placed in a boma and quarantined for period of 14 days. After the two-week period of continuous monitoring, the lions were finally released into their new home.

Watch their story here...