First Lion Cubs Born in Nearly 2 Decades in Akagera National Park, Rwanda

May 17, 2016

Nothing excites us more than little lion cubs!

Like cheeky children, born into royalty, these future kings have no idea of the importance that their survival holds. That is why we couldn’t have been more thrilled by the recent announcement by African Parks and the Rwanda Development Board confirming the birth of the first lion cubs to be born in Akagera National Park in nearly 20 years! This brings the total lion population in Akagera, and Rwanda, to 10. The three eagerly anticipated cubs are estimated to be around six weeks old and were spotted earlier in May with their mother, Shema.

Here’s what African Parks had to say about all the furry fuss:

“Five females, from &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, and two males, from Tembe Elephant Park, both located in the South African province of KwaZulu Natal, were translocated to Rwanda in June of 2015 as a ground breaking conservation effort to bring lions back not just to Akagera, but to the country after almost a twenty-year absence. Lions were extirpated in Rwanda, poisoned by cattle herders returning after the Genocide in 1994. Since the arrival of these seven lions last year, park visitation has increased by 23 percent on the previous year with the park recording more than 4,000 visitors, a record number, in the months following their arrival.”


Photo © Sean Carter

Struggle for survival

Life in the wild is hard enough for adult lions, let alone tiny defenceless cubs. African Parks expanded on just how vulnerable the cubs are and the threat lions are under as a whole:

“Lion cubs are at risk in their first few months; they are born blind and unable to walk in the first weeks and rely entirely on their mother for food and protection. They are very vulnerable to predators and have high mortality rates. Lions are considered vulnerable by the IUCN having decreased by over 40% in the last 20 years with major threats being human-wildlife conflict and prey and habitat depletion.”


Photo © Sean Carter

A Family Affair

African Parks knows the lions of Akagera and their history as if they were their own family members. Here’s what they say about Shema and her new babies:

“Shema who is 11 years old, the eldest of the females translocated to the park in 2015, is an experienced mother and is known to have had at least three previous litters before her translocation, including two-year old Amahoro, who was brought to Akagera along with Shema last year. Their father, Ntwari, is the five-year old dominant male, who was also brought to the park with another four-year old male, Ngangare. Mating was also witnessed between Ntwari and one of the three-year old sisters, Kazi and Umwari, and more recently with five-year old female, Garuka, suggesting more cubs are expected in the near future.”

Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s oldest park and the only protected savannah region in the country. Home to over 12,000 large mammals and 500 bird species, African Parks also plans to reintroduce black rhino to the park after a ten-year absence. If you’d like to experience this iconic park in Rwanda, and have a chance to spot the lion cubs, get in touch with us! We’d love to help you plan your perfect safari tour.

Posted by tfhadmin

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