Twenty-four, beautiful big cats have arrived at their new home, thanks to The Cabela Family Foundation.
Co-ordinating one of the biggest lion moves across borders, in partnership with the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance, Zambeze Delta Safaris and Marromeu Safaris, these cats will start their new lives by helping to repopulate the Zambezi Delta in Mozambique.
The wildlife population of the delta was heavily threatened by the Mozambican civil war, and after peace poaching became the new threat. With the help of anti-poaching units and the local community, the non-carnivorous animals had stabilised enough for lions to be returned to the area as the top of the food chain. Carnivores are extremely important to prevent the collapse of biomes.
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Wild lions from South Africa's Tembe Elephant Park and Makalali Private Game Reserve were selected to help seed this new population. After being quarantined at Msunduze River Lodge for a period, the lions were sedated and started their journey to Mozambique through Mkuze and Kruger International Airport.
Since their arrival in Mozambique, they have been in quarantine bomas where the different lion groups were socialised to form larger prides, increasing their chances of successfully adjusting to their new environment in the delta.
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Since Sunday, five of the 24 have been released so far according to the project's Facebook page, and will continue the rest of the week. The anti-poaching team from Zambeze Delta Safaris has been taking the lead. They have been making vital strides in the conservation of the delta and making it possible for the lions to move to their new 2.5 million-acre home.
According to Club of Mozambique, the lion population is expected to increase to 500 in the space of 30 years, which will contribute to increasing the world's lion population by 10% over the next two decades.
The last big lion relocation was in 2015, when 33 rescued lions were flown from South America to the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa, where they will live out their days as they cannot be rewilded.
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Check out the pics from the big move below: