Rwanda on Tuesday joined the global community in celebrating the World Lion Day which is observed every year on August 10 to raise awareness about lions and mobilise support for their protection and conservation. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), even though a lion is often referred to as the “King of the Jungle,” it actually only lives in grasslands and plains. In Rwanda, according to Drew Bantlin, the Conservation and Research Manager at Akagera National Park, the lion population in the park has grown five times to 35 since 2015, when seven lions were translocated into the park in 2015. The lions were introduced in the park from game parks in South Africa, years after they disappeared. The translocated lions included five females which were donated by Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and the two males by Tembe Elephant Reserve and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife protected area. Both game reserves are located in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Bantlin said that the lion population is growing well and that the park has a team that helps in keeping them on track. “To conserve these lions, there is a team that makes sure that they are safe and secured. The tracking team monitors behavior. Our ranger team ensures the security of the park. We also enhance community awareness so that people can also help in conserving these animals,” he said. Akagera is managed by African Parks on behalf of Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Jean-Paul Karinganire, the assistant tourism and marketing manager at Akagera National Park said that after the Genocide, the park had 300 lions but as people encroached on the park, they were poisoned mainly by pastoralists accusing them of eating their cattle. The last lion died in 2002, he added. The initiative to protect the big cats started in 2013 and the first World Lion Day was celebrated that year. Since then, it has become a symbol in the fight to protect the majestic species. According to the WWF, lions were once found throughout Africa, Asia and Europe but their numbers have dwindled over the years in these continents. These majestic cats that symbolise courage, ferocity, and power are threatened by extensive habitat loss. “While the population of wild lions saw a catastrophic decline across the world, except for Africa, the mighty beasts have found a natural home in India. Their population has increased steadily in India, especially in Gir forest – the only wild population of lions outside Africa,” ndtv.com wrote in an article. The International Union for Conservation of Natures Red List of Threatened Species listed lions as vulnerable species because they have lost a vast majority of their habitat and resultantly their population, primarily because of conflict with humans, poaching, and trophy hunting.