Africa’s big cats are a real treat on any safari
Big cats are on the run for their lives, but it’s a race we know they can successfully win with our help.
Prides of lions lounging under the acacias, a cheetah perched on top of a termite mound, and a leopard enjoying its kill in the safety of a tall and luscious tree - these are all everyday scenes that capture the beauty of wild Africa. However, these scenes are far more fleeting than most people know, as big cats in Africa are some of the planet’s most threatened species across the globe. They are being hunted for their skins, bones, claws and other parts; killed to stop the human-wildlife conflict, and their habitats are being fragmented, and ultimately lost.
But we’re witnessing some hopeful signs across the continent.
Lions and Cheetah reintroduced to Malawi
Lions are being restored in Malawi : In the year 2012 after decades of being poached out, we reintroduced lions to Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi. After securing the park and returning critical species including prey populations, the lions grew to form a small but growing pride, so much so that just last week, we successfully moved the first two of ten lions to Liwonde National Park, bringing back the species to the area after at least a four-year absence.
A new cheetah population doubles in less than a year: In 2017, we reintroduced the cheetahs to Liwonde National Park in Malawi, after a 100-year absence. Several females have since had little cubs, increasing their population in just a few months since their arrival.
The Lions of Akagera National Park in Rwanda
Lions are on the rise in Rwanda: In the year 2015, after a 20-year absence since lions were eradicated by refugees returning to Rwanda after the genocide, we reintroduced seven lions to Akagera National Park . Coupled with vigorous law enforcement, community engagement and human-wildlife conflict prevention, they have been given the space to thrive.
The number of lions has nearly tripled, and this previously ignored park is now one of Central Africa’s wildlife gems. Tourism is flourishing with more than 36,000 annual visitors to the park, bringing with them $1.3 million in needed tourism revenue that is reinvested in the surrounding communities.
Tourism and the ecology on new legs
These are all part of a broader vision to restore and protect big cats in Africa’s remaining wild places. Their presence helps maintain critically critical ecological processes while giving tourism a needed boost, producing much-needed benefits for surrounding communities and delivering necessary revenue to the region.