South Africa park sports the three lions

2nd May 2013

South Africa's Mountain Zebra National Park is now home to three lions - for the first time in over 130 years.

Tourists with a penchant for trekking holidays can already enjoy cheetah tracking and guided walks here.

Now the lions are the third predator species to be released into the 28,000-hectare park, following the cheetah in 2007 and brown hyena a year later.

They are collared so that the Eastern Cape region park can track their footsteps and activity in the first few years after release.

Observing their habitats and food sources will enable park leaders to monitor the big cats' effect and determine if more should be introduced.

The lioness and two male lions came from Karoo National Park and Welgevonden Game Reserve.

They will help peg back the numbers of larger herbivores - such as black wildebeest, red hartebeest, eland and gemsbok - to manageable levels in the park's ecosystem.

Park manager Megan Taplin said it decided to allow cheetahs to first establish themselves in the park before introducing lions, which may compete with them for food.

She added: "The numbers of large herbivores have now reached levels deemed sufficient to support lion."

Mountain Zebra National Park - a firm favourite with holidaymakers on group tours - was established in the 1930s to save the region's endangered mountain zebras.

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