Rwanda has ruled out foul play in the death of one of the seven lions imported in 2015 as part of efforts to boost tourism in the Akagera National Park.
Rangers tracking the lions, that were brought in to reintroduce the species that had been hunted to extinction in the country’s largest park, came across the collar and remains of the lioness known as Garuka last week.
“Garuka was in good form last time she was seen by park rangers. There were no signs of illegal activity in the area and since she was hunting alone we suspect that she may have died of injuries sustained while attempting a kill,” park authorities said in a statement.
Sarah Hall, the marketing manager at Akagera, told The EastAfrican that the lioness had died of natural causes.
“It is a natural death as it was not related to illegal activities,” she said in a phone interview.
Garuka was five years old when she arrived in Akagera with six other lions –five females and two males, from South Africa.
Ms Hall said the park had seen an increase in visitor numbers since the lions were reintroduced.
Visitor numbers rose from 25,663 at the end of 2015 to 29,974 as at October this year.
Rangers track the lions using satellite technology, but the management says they were unable to follow Garuka’s movements as closely as the others who continue to transmit a satellite signal every eight hours.
New lion cubs
In a related development, another lioness, Amahoro, gave birth to two cubs.
“Today on the heels of this sad news, we are pleased to share that rangers tracking Amahoro were able to confirm what we had been suspecting; she has given birth to two cubs! » the Akagera management said.
This brings the number of lion population in Akagera to 15. Park authorities also plan to reintroduce rhinos which would give the country the Big Five status.