May 9th, 2013 by Michelle Wright
Three lions have been released into Mountain Zebra National Park, South Africa, in the Eastern Cape region, making them the first free roaming lions in the area for over 130 years.
The group consisted of one female, sourced from Karoo National Park, and two males from Welgeveonden Game Reserve.
Park Manage, Megan Taplin, said: “Lions would have occurred here historically and it is SANParks policy to reintroduce the wildlife species which would have occurred in an area before hunting or habitat loss forced them to local extinction in earlier centuries. They will also occupy the niche of large predator in the ecosystem, keeping the numbers of larger herbivores in the park in check.”
The lions are collared so that the park’s management can monitor their progress and impact on prey species, therefore determining whether more should be introduced in the future.
Other predators have been released into park in previous years, including cheetah in 2007 and brown hyena in 2008.
Source: Wildlife Extra