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More Lions!

A fantastic new addition to the nearby uMkhuze Game Reserve!

Taken from the Zululand Observer – Tamlyn Jolly

HISTORY was made last week when four lions were released into uMkhuze Game Reserve.

This follows 44 years of lions´ absence from the area.
The animals, which include one adult female and three sub-adult offspring (a male and two females), are the first of a total of eight destined for the uMkhuze section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

They were trans-located from Tembe Elephant Park on Saturday 2 November, a task undertaken by the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority and its conservation partner, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

The four lions spent the past month in a purpose-built boma in the game reserve in order to get used to their surroundings.

All adults are fitted with satellite collars which ensure accurate monitoring, essential for biological purposes and safety reasons. Two more lionesses and two male brothers are still to be added, in a two-stage operation, to the existing four.
The total of eight lions will form the base of uMkhuze´s new lion population.
`Today´s historic and exciting introduction of lions brings iSimangaliso [Wetland Park] closer to achieving its conservation vision – the full restoration of eco-systems functioning and the re-establishment of the migratory patterns of historically
occurring animal populations from the top of the Lebombo mountains to the sea…´ commented iSimangaliso Wetland Park CEO Andrew Zaloumis at the release.
The result of 13 years´ hard work, which has included settling land claims and erecting 350km of `Big 5-proof´ fencing, is the re-introduction of several thousand head of game, including oribi, tsessebe, black and white rhino, elephant, wild dog and cheetah into the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Apart from the four lions still to be released in uMkhuze Game Reserve, the park authority´s next goal is to re-introduce eland, the allocated date for this being April/May 2014.
`This is a great day for iSimangaliso and conservation generally, and I applaud iSimangaliso on realising our conservation vision, something I did not dream achievable in my lifetime!´ said renowned conservationist Dr Ian Player who has been highly supportive of the wetland park authority´s efforts at restoring original animal populations and biodiversity to the region.

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