Many of you will remember the genocide that took place in Rwanda in the mid-1990’s. While taking a horrible toll on the country and its people, it was also devastating for the country’s wildlife. During the event and after, with much of the populace on the brink of starvation, people had to do what they could to survive, which unfortunately included decimating the country’s wild lion population. With their livestock (and sometimes families) at risk, Rwandan farmers took to killing the lions–often by poisoning animal carcasses–, with the last remaining native cats killed in 1999.
Since that time there has not been a single recorded lion sighting in the entire country–until now.
Non-profit organization African Parks has spearheaded an effort to restore Rwanda’s Akagera Park to it’s former glory, which includes the import (from South Africa) of seven lions–five females and two males. Along with the new cats they have also fenced off the parks to prevent human-animal confrontations, and have funded educational programs in the local communities to teach why this effort will help them in the long run.
“It’s good,” said [local farmer] Emmanuel of the reintroduction. “Now we have a fence, and we have had assistance from the park building schools and other projects.” Emmanuel is confident the new arrivals will bring more tourists to Akagera. “We are happy. This is another attraction – there will be more people coming to the country,” he said.”
Find out more about the effort to restore Rwanda’s wildlife here (BBC).