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jeremie

Rwandan Akagera National Park lion reintroduction plan

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Akagera National Park under APN management, will soon receive a pride of 7 lions. Lions were extirpated in Rwanda during the genocide in 1994, it is now time to recover the amazing biodiversity of the Akagera.

Lions were donated by South African protected areas (Phinda and Tembe). 5 adult and sub-adult females and 2 sub-adult males will travel on the 30th of June and then released after a 26 hours to trip to a bona in the North of the park.

 

Here is the oficial press release from the NGO:

http://www.african-parks.org/Blog_183_African+Parks+to+translocate+and+reintroduce+lions+into+Akagera+National+Park%2C+Rwanda.html

 

APN is also working on reintroducing black rhinos in the Akagera.

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Great news! And high-lighting the fact that reintroductions through cumbersome processes of taking lion cubs from their mothers, walk them with tourists, let people train them to hunt, have them have cubs on their own, and then release those cubs through a lengthy process is not necessary. If there is an area which can sustain lions, and if it is desired to reintroduce lions they can readily be sourced from managed wild populations.

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Great news! And high-lighting the fact that reintroductions through cumbersome processes of taking lion cubs from their mothers, walk them with tourists, let people train them to hunt, have them have cubs on their own, and then release those cubs through a lengthy process is not necessary. If there is an area which can sustain lions, and if it is desired to reintroduce lions they can readily be sourced from managed wild populations.

 

True!

And as far as I understand there are many small, managed populations in South Africa that have a surplus of lions to donate to other countries!

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I am not really used with lion sub-species. Certain sources state there are many sub-species in Africa, while other one only consider 2 real sub-species (Asian, Western, Southern-Eastern) in the world.

 

I would really appreciate the ST members experts on that matter enlightened me about it. In particular, I would be interested to know if the forme Rwandan lions, that should be from the same than the ones from the North-Western Tanzanian lions from the Burigi GR (if lions still roam in this area), are considered as a different sub-species from the South African ones.

 

Well, if they are form different sub-species, do you think it is correct to reintroduce lions from a different sub-species, considering there are hundreds of lions in Kenya, Uganda, Congo and Tanzania.

I have heard APN first tried to get line from Kenya, but for one reason I don't know this alternative seems to have failed.

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I am not really used with lion sub-species. Certain sources state there are many sub-species in Africa, while other one only consider 2 real sub-species (Asian, Western, Southern-Eastern) in the world.

 

I would really appreciate the ST members experts on that matter enlightened me about it. In particular, I would be interested to know if the forme Rwandan lions, that should be from the same than the ones from the North-Western Tanzanian lions from the Burigi GR (if lions still roam in this area), are considered as a different sub-species from the South African ones.

 

Well, if they are form different sub-species, do you think it is correct to reintroduce lions from a different sub-species, considering there are hundreds of lions in Kenya, Uganda, Congo and Tanzania.

I have heard APN first tried to get line from Kenya, but for one reason I don't know this alternative seems to have failed.

 

~ @@jeremie

 

Does that mean that there were no surplus lions in Kenya available for reintroduction?

Or, if there were surplus lions available, were there any specific biogeographical factors preventing Kenya's lions from being made available in Rwanda?

Tom K.

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Posted (edited)

Apologies if this has already been posted. Seems like a positive step in the right direction.

 

http://news.yahoo.com/first-lions-return-rwanda-over-two-decades-093240887.html

 

"Seven lions -- two males and five females -- are being transported from South Africa and will arrive by air in Rwanda on Monday after a 36 hour journey, where they will be taken and released after at least two weeks quarantine into the eastern Akagera National Park."

 

Has anyone been to Akagera NP?

Edited by PT123
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http://safaritalk.net/topic/14678-rwandan-akagera-national-park-lion-reintroduction-plan/

http://safaritalk.net/topic/13326-rwanda-to-import-lions-from-kenya-to-restock-akagera-national-park/

http://safaritalk.net/topic/3984-have-orthotics-will-track/

~ @@PT123

 

@@Atravelynn has a superb trip report “Have Orthotics Will Track” from 2009 in which she describes her visit to Akagera National Park in post #5.

She's such an intrepid traveler, who writes with humor and verve. It's a trip report well worth reading.

Tom K.

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As far as I know there aren't really managed wild populations in Kenya, although some areas could do with a reduction in the lion density, and others are big enough to sustain some off take. But, does KWS want that? What is their policy on it, what is the public opinion, etc. That all comes into play. I can see why SA is an easier option.

 

The status of various subspecies of lions in Africa hasn't been fully resolved (if that's possible). The western Africa one is more closely related to the Asiatic one than to the east African one, but the relationships between the east African ones (azandia and nubica) and southern African ones (bleyenberghi and krugeri) isn't clear.

For example, Liuwa should be bleyenberghi, and the Luangwa valley should be nubica. Kafue...who knows? However, probably up to the not so long past, several decades to maybe 50 years ago, there was genetic contact between Liuwa, Kafue and Luangwa, so it's hard to distinguish them based on genetics, and based on morfology (which was mostly done by mane size and color) doesn't work either because of the large variation within populations and the influence the environment and climate has on the mane for example.

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Posted (edited)

Post #5 will have zero mention of lions. But I am thrilled they may again thrive in this beautiful and bountiful park. Whenever I mentioned Akagera to anyone connected with the tourism industry in Rwanda, the response was, "Akagera, Big 5." I think they were told to connect the Big 5 concept with that park for good PR. Their comments will have more truth to them now.

 

Thanks @@PT123 for the information. And thanks @@Tom Kellie for your nice comments.

Edited by Atravelynn
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As far as I know there aren't really managed wild populations in Kenya, although some areas could do with a reduction in the lion density, and others are big enough to sustain some off take. But, does KWS want that? What is their policy on it, what is the public opinion, etc. That all comes into play. I can see why SA is an easier option.

 

The status of various subspecies of lions in Africa hasn't been fully resolved (if that's possible). The western Africa one is more closely related to the Asiatic one than to the east African one, but the relationships between the east African ones (azandia and nubica) and southern African ones (bleyenberghi and krugeri) isn't clear.

For example, Liuwa should be bleyenberghi, and the Luangwa valley should be nubica. Kafue...who knows? However, probably up to the not so long past, several decades to maybe 50 years ago, there was genetic contact between Liuwa, Kafue and Luangwa, so it's hard to distinguish them based on genetics, and based on morfology (which was mostly done by mane size and color) doesn't work either because of the large variation within populations and the influence the environment and climate has on the mane for example.

 

~ @@egilio

 

Thank you very much for providing such a comprehensive explanation.

Your expertise is most appreciated!

Tom K.

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I've merged these two similar topics.

 

Also, here is a link to a report from the Standard Digital News on why Kenya didn't supply the lions.

 

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000167376/now-rwanda-opts-for-south-african-lions

 

A plan to restock Rwanda's Akagera National Park with lions from Kenya has been abandoned following protests from conservationists and tourism players.

 

 

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I've merged these two similar topics.

 

Also, here is a link to a report from the Standard Digital News on why Kenya didn't supply the lions.

 

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000167376/now-rwanda-opts-for-south-african-lions

 

A plan to restock Rwanda's Akagera National Park with lions from Kenya has been abandoned following protests from conservationists and tourism players.

 

~ @@twaffle

 

Thank you so much for that information from Kenya.

That answers my question.

Great information gathering!

Tom K.

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I've merged these two similar topics.

 

Also, here is a link to a report from the Standard Digital News on why Kenya didn't supply the lions.

 

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000167376/now-rwanda-opts-for-south-african-lions

 

A plan to restock Rwanda's Akagera National Park with lions from Kenya has been abandoned following protests from conservationists and tourism players.

 

 

 

 

With a little bit less of 2000 lions in Kenya, I do not think taking 7 lions from Masai Mara or Samburu areas would have made the difference.

I am also wandering why they did not take any lions from the Serengeti landscapes.

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Here are some answers from APN on Facebook concerning my doubts:

 

 

 

  • But south African lions are not the sub species that used to inhabit rwanda.
    Wouldn't it be better to bring lions from neighboring Tanzania?
    • 735063_227078317428181_1268320081_n.jpg?
      African Parks Hi Ohr Treger and Jérémie Goulevitch, there are two responses to this: (1) It would certainly be better if we could have sourced lions from East Africa but we exhausted all possible options (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) without success. Accordingly, after extensive efforts to secure East African lions, we eventually felt it would be better for lion conservation in general and for Rwanda’s profile to rather introduce southern lions rather than no lions at all. This was deemed ecologically acceptable because of the second reason – (2) there is no sub-species differentiation between southern and east African lions as yet even though genetic integrity was of course a primary factor in our effort to secure east African lions. This issue was discussed at length with the IUCN Cat Specialist Group and Panthera.

 

 

  • Jérémie Goulevitch Accoridng to your studies, how many lions could live in the Akagera landscape? What is the carrying capacity of the park?
    • 735063_227078317428181_1268320081_n.jpg?
      African Parks This is difficult to model as yet as we are not sure what prey species they will target. Accordingly we have approached this cautiously allowing significant room for growth. Once there is data on their predation habits, we will be able to more accurately model the upper limit of “killing” lions (i.e. adult lions that contribute to catching prey). We expect the population to grow quite quickly and we expect at some point in the future to be faced with a surplus of lions as is inevitable for any comparatively small, confined protected area. We will intervene well before prey populations are at risk of falling into the so-called predator pit and there are a large number of precedents from lion management in confined reserves in South Africa to guide us on how best to intervene under different circumstances.
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Here are some answers from APN on Facebook concerning my doubts:

 

 

 

  • But south African lions are not the sub species that used to inhabit rwanda.

    Wouldn't it be better to bring lions from neighboring Tanzania?

    • 735063_227078317428181_1268320081_n.jpg?
      African Parks Hi Ohr Treger and Jérémie Goulevitch, there are two responses to this: (1) It would certainly be better if we could have sourced lions from East Africa but we exhausted all possible options (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) without success. Accordingly, after extensive efforts to secure East African lions, we eventually felt it would be better for lion conservation in general and for Rwanda’s profile to rather introduce southern lions rather than no lions at all. This was deemed ecologically acceptable because of the second reason – (2) there is no sub-species differentiation between southern and east African lions as yet even though genetic integrity was of course a primary factor in our effort to secure east African lions. This issue was discussed at length with the IUCN Cat Specialist Group and Panthera.

 

 

  • Jérémie Goulevitch Accoridng to your studies, how many lions could live in the Akagera landscape? What is the carrying capacity of the park?
    • 735063_227078317428181_1268320081_n.jpg?
      African Parks This is difficult to model as yet as we are not sure what prey species they will target. Accordingly we have approached this cautiously allowing significant room for growth. Once there is data on their predation habits, we will be able to more accurately model the upper limit of “killing” lions (i.e. adult lions that contribute to catching prey). We expect the population to grow quite quickly and we expect at some point in the future to be faced with a surplus of lions as is inevitable for any comparatively small, confined protected area. We will intervene well before prey populations are at risk of falling into the so-called predator pit and there are a large number of precedents from lion management in confined reserves in South Africa to guide us on how best to intervene under different circumstances.

 

 

~ @@jeremie

 

The two African Parks responses above clarify why the translocated lions were from South Africa.

It's heartening to read such well-reasoned, straightforward responses.

You're a prince, @@jeremie, for doggedly persisting in asking about these matters.

I've indirectly mentioned your example to students here as to how a committed individual makes a difference.

Thank you for asking African Parks about this and for kindly sharing the response with us.

Tom K.

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KWS is very possesive of its wildlife so I’m not surprised that they weren’t willing to part with any lions removing 7 from a well protected population would have made no difference at all, though of course the Kenyan media and population might not understand that so I can see how the removal of some of Kenya’s lions could easily have been turned into scandal.

 

They are also planning to reintroduce black rhinos I wonder where they will manage to source some East African blacks from, I seem to recall that when Tony Fitzjohn was establishing the rhino sanctuary in Mkomazi NP in Tanzania which is after all right on the Kenya border he approached KWS to acquire some rhinos and they said no. The first rhinos at Mkomazi came from a population of East African blacks introduced into Addo NP in the Cape and then 3 rhinos came from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic and 3 from Port Lympne Zoo in Kent and another one will be sent back from Dvur Kralove this autumn. Two from Port Lympne were also sent to the Singita-Grumeti Reserve in 2009, I am not entirely sure what has happened to the rest of the Addo Rhinos I understood that Paul Tudor Jones had bought 32 of them for the Singita-Grumeti Reserve but that TANAPA insisted that they be released inside the Serengeti NP instead. Whether there are any still left in South Africa I don’t know, I guess there may be more East African black rhinos in zoos that could be potentially be released in Akagera I think Port Lympne still has 15, so there may well be other zoos that have spare rhinos that they could donate to Rwanda. It will be interesting to see if and when the rhino reintroduction does go ahead and where the animals come from as I presume they will want to ensure that they are East African blacks Diceros bicornis michaeli. Unlike with lions there is a difference between rhinos in East Africa and those in South Africa.

 

Interestingly Akagera was I believe the site of the first ever translocation of black rhinos a a number of rhinos were moved from Tanzania across into the park back in the 60s they did very well until the poaching got out of hand in the 80s. Remarkable a single bull miraculously survived until very recently but disappeared presumably poached just before AP took over Akagera.

 

It seems to be that the survival of lions and rhinos and other animals could benefit from a bit more cooperation between different countries.

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@inyathi

Thank you for your long and detailed answer and sharing your great knowledge. Well, I am badly surprised about the KWS attitude towards animals donations, in particular concerning rhinos, as multi-national cooperation is one of the keys to ensure the protection of the species at a continental scale, through creation of new population while boosting birth rates.

 

I had no idea about the reintroduction sources for Mkomazi and Singita-Grumeti. Rhinos would certainly be better protected in Singita-Grumeti than in Serengeti, though I guess it is legitimate some of them go to the Serengeti. An as far as I know there is no fence between both protected areas so rhinos would be free to move to the better habitat in there.

 

APN is currently working in reintroducing rhinos in Zakouma and Akagera.

While I understand it is legitimate reintroducing black rhinos in Zakouma, even if they are not from the same sub-species (western black rhinos went extinct a decade ago), black rhinos were actually introduced in Rwanda according to APN. If it is clear multiplying rhinos population is good for ensuring their preservation, it is clear in this case APN tries to use the Big 5 as a comercial asset in promoting Akagera and get larger incomes. I would be interested to get the opinions of different persons on this question.

 

On the other hand, it is important to maintain some captive eastern black rhinos for breeding programs. Who knows what the human madness is really capable of?

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The twitter account @TravelRwanda is tweeting a lot about this event and says the translocation of the 7 lions is now complete - they are all in their temporary boma in the park. They have some blurry photos here from about 8 hours ago but promise more when the sun comes up! Here's the link to see their twitter feed even if you don't have a twitter account.

 

https://twitter.com/TravelRwanda

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This is brilliant news! I think African Parks is doing an excellent job in the way in which they manage their parks. It's also great to see their responses to @@jeremie above - good to know they had looked into all options before going ahead with the translocation.

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The twitter account @TravelRwanda is tweeting a lot about this event and says the translocation of the 7 lions is now complete - they are all in their temporary boma in the park. They have some blurry photos here from about 8 hours ago but promise more when the sun comes up! Here's the link to see their twitter feed even if you don't have a twitter account.

 

https://twitter.com/TravelRwanda

 

~ @@SafariChick

 

Unfortunately, that link is unavailable here.

No matter — what you've written is the update that we wanted.

Great to know!

Thanks for finding and posting this!

Tom K.

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Posted (edited)

A few of the original lions from Akagera almost certainly left the park after the civil war when Akagera was invaded by refugees and the northern section of the park was lost and migrated north to Lake Mburo NP in Uganda where there were no lions but sadly all of the lions in Lake Mburo have since been poisoned (or possibly speared) by the local people to protect their herds of Ankole cattle. At least I believe that is the case and don't think there are any lions left in Lake Mburo.

 

As I mentioned in my previous post the first black rhinos were introduced to Akagera in the 60s, Maasai giraffes were introduced to the park in 1986 and unlike the rhinos are still thriving. Why either species was absent from the park I don’t know, there are as far as I know giraffes in the Burigi Game Reserve in Northwestern Tanzania right on the border only about 12 miles or so southeast of Akagera’s boundary. In the past there were certainly also black rhinos in this part of Tanzania.

 

The East African black rhinos at Dvur Kralove originally came from Tsavo so it’s fitting that some of them have gone to Mkomazi. Considering that 10 rhinos from the Mara wondered across the border and set up home in the Serengeti it really is crazy that Kenya and Tanzania do not cooperate more over their rhinos. I hope that in the future things will change and they will at least be willing to exchange animals in order increase genetic diversity. Ideally all though of these rhinos would be managed as a single population including eventually those in Akagera and I hope one day some in Uganda as well but no doubt the Ugandans will struggle to obtain some Eastern blacks if KWS won’t part with any.

 

I may well at some point add something about the Zakouma rhinos to my report.

Edited by inyathi
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Here is a video about the journey

 

 

It says when they arrived, the lions seemed hungry and started looking around their boma trying to hunt. The rangers had killed a buffalo for them to eat.

 

Also, update from @AkageraPark twitter account: "The lions have eaten the meat provided & the females have begun to drink water. Males looking around curiously."

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And here the release: Press release

 

African Parks, in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board, has released seven translocated lions into Akagera National Park. The five females, from &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, and two males, from Tembe Elephant Park, both in the South African province of KwaZulu Natal, were brought to Rwanda at the end of June in a ground breaking conservation effort for the country.

 

 

And a video about the translocation (with some unnecessary dramatic lion sounds):

 

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I didn't see this posted here anywhere - the lions have their first cubs. This story is linked to from the African Parks website (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3588642/Lion-cubs-born-Rwanda-boost-predators-fortunes.html) but from what I've seen on their website they have now seen 7 cubs.

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