Two lions released into South African park

18th Feb 2013

The lion population at South Africa's Karoo National Park has been increased to nine with the release of two new males from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park that straddles both South Africa and Botswana.

Park management set the lions free from a special enclosure in the eastern area of the park. Staff say the lions will probably stake out their own stable territories inside Karoo and defend them from other male lions in the park.

A founding population of lions was introduced into Karoo from Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth in 2010. This small group was comprised of lions from Kgalagadi as well as offspring from lions brought into Addo in 2003 from Kgalagadi. This founding group has made a stable home in the Karoo National Park, which is near Beaufort West.

It was decided to present two new three-year-old males into Karoo to avoid inbreeding that occurs when there is a lack of movement of individual lions either out of or into the existing population. The move was also made to boost genetic diversity in the park. The two new males had been kept in a temporary enclosure to give them time to adapt to their new surroundings.

"The introduction of predators into Karoo National Park forms part of attempts to restore the ecological processes in the Park, specifically to re-establish the process of predation. This will help to control herbivore numbers naturally and decrease the need for capturing and culling, which is in line with SANParks' 'minimum interference' philosophy," park manager Nico van der Walt said.

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