On Arrival from South Africa to Rwanda, the imported lions were locked away in a 1,000-sqm constructed perimeter in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park for a period of 26 days user study and observation after which would be released into the wilderness of the park.
The kings of the jungle reached Rwanda early this month, with a lot of jubilations and celebration from the Rwandan people, as it is a big step to growth and development of the country’s tourism.
In a report from the Tourism and Conversation Department of Rwanda; Today tourism as become the country’s largest foreign exchange earner, with a consistent growth and over the recent years which is very impressive. From January to September 2012, tourism receipts totaled $210.5 million, compared to $184.4 million in receipts over the same period in 2011, a 14% increase. From 2011 to 2012, the total number of visitors increased 22% to 493,744 visitors, the number of leisure visitors increased by 16%, and the number of business visitors increased by eight percent which is a tremendous improvement and in bid to improve the tourism industry further, the government needs continuously diversfy the country’s attractions so that once a travel comes to Rwanda on safari to be able to visit gorillas in Volcanoes national park, chimps in Nyungwe and also enjoy wildlife viewing in Akagera without having to travel to another destination to see lions in Savannah.
The African Parks together with the Rwanda Development Board relocated lions from South Africa and re-introduced the species into Akagera National Park in Eastern Rwanda. African parks is a non-profit organisation that takes total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities in Africa.
On arrival at the park in Rwanda, the lions were placed in a specially constructed boma in the north of the park. Split into two separate enclosures, the perimeter features a three-metre high, chain-linked electrified fence.
A water reserve was constructed within the boma and the lions were fed game meat while in the enclosure for 26 days. On 25th July 2015, the big cats were let free in order to allow them adapt life to the wildness where they can now hunt prey for themselves.
“We have closely monitored them for close to a month while in enclosures but now we have released them to hone their hunting skills and boost ecosystem in the park,”
In an interview with Jes Gruner, the Akagera National Park Manager, the lions have been released as by the end of month they had adopted to the Rwandan climate
Gruner stated that tourists will be able to see the lions in the park in Rwanda for the first time in 21 years ever since the genocide which wiped them out, though viewing them in the park willsolely depend on where the animal will be located at the time of visit.
Available information indicates that the park once had about 230 lions but, after the 1994 Genocide, returnees encroached on the park pushing the lions out and killing others.
The park was reduced from 2,500 to 1,200 square kilometers until when government intervened to reclaim some parts.
The Akagera National Park is the country’s only savanna animal sanctuary with a wide- range of game that include buffalos, elephants, zebras, giraffes, hippos, and antelopes, among others.
Last year Rwanda’s tourism industry registered revenue receipts worth 304.9 million U.S. dollars (about Rwf218 billion). The post genocide nation hosted a total number of about 1.22 million visitors in 2014.
Leisure has been a major foreign exchange earner for Rwanda’s tourism industry. Currently, the country is focusing on Meetings Incentives Conference and Exhibitions/Events (MICE) tourism, capitalizing on safety, developed .