Akagera park lions double in number after one year


In the wilderness, young lioness keeps a distance. (File)

One year after the re-introduction of lions in Akagera National Park, the population of the big cats has more than doubled, according to the park's managers. 

There are now 15 lions in the park, currently. 

In June last year, seven lions -- consisting five females and two males -- were translocated from South Africa into Akagera National Park, which is located in the Eastern Province. 

These were the first lions in Akagera and Rwanda in general, in almost two decades.

In a statement issued yesterday by Sarah Hall, the Tourism and Marketing Manager at Akagera National Park, she said that the recent birth of two cubs brought the population to 15.

“We are pleased to share that rangers tracking Amahoro were able to confirm what we had been suspecting; she has given birth to two cubs!” she is quoted in the statement.

Amahoro is one of the female lions brought in from South Africa last year.

This is Amahoro’s first litter and the cubs are estimated to be around two months old, she said.

Besides Amahoro, another female, Shema, already has three seven-months cubs. 

"Shema's sisters Umwari and Kazi have also been seen with their four cubs by tourists for the first time recently," reads part of the statement.

Garuka dead

Meanwhile, in the same statement, Hall announced the death of another female, Garuka, which was part of the original seven translocated into the park last year.

Garuka was five years old when she arrived Akagera.

“Garuka’s collar stopped emitting a satellite signal in December 2015. Rangers were still able to track her in the field using the VHF transmitter, however we were unable to follow her movements as closely as the other lions who continue to emit a satellite signal every eight hours,” Hall said in the statement.

“Rangers tracking Garuka last week came across her collar and remains. 

Garuka was in good condition last time she was seen by park rangers. There were no signs of illegal activity in the area and we suspect that she may have died of injuries sustained while attempting a kill, not unusual for lions hunting alone.”

According to the park managers, Garuka was unrelated to the other lions and had not had any cubs since arriving in Akagera.

Following their release from the boma in July 2015 the five females spent six weeks together before the sisters, Umwari and Kazi ventured off on their own.

Hall explained that Garuka remained with Shema and Shema’s sub-adult cub, Amahoro, but they soon all separated when Shema met up with the two males, Ntwari and Ngangare.

Garuka later joined Amahoro until they also parted ways recently, it is said.