© Daan Smit

A collared male lion was safely returned to Liuwa Plain National Park on Monday 11th of February four days after it ventured south from the park boundaries into the Kalabo District in the wider Game Management Area. The successful result, which saw no harm to community members or animals, was achieved through a collaborative effort between conservation NGO African Parks, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and the Zambian Carnivore Programme.

On the 7th of February a male lion had crossed the Luanginga River and moved from the park into a densely populated section of the Game Management Area in Kalabo District, in close proximity to people and their livestock. Fitted with a dual satellite and radio collar that enables 24-hour monitoring as part of African Parks’ management strategy, the lion’s location was quickly tracked by a team from Liuwa Plain. Park management and DNPW immediately mobilised, informing community members, partners including the BRE and Government departments and other stakeholders, while they deployed a law enforcement team to follow the lion. The teams worked closely with those on the ground to ensure the area and people’s livestock were secured.

African Parks, the DNPW and the Zambian Carnivore Programme subsequently conducted a joint operation to return the lion to the park, utilising the combined support of vets, monitoring and law enforcement teams. Over the course of 24 hours, the experts employed various strategies to move the lion, finally encouraging it out of the vicinity and in the direction of the park. By the morning of the 11th of February, the lion had been successfully restored to the park where his movements are continuing to be closely monitored by ecologists from the Zambian Carnivore Programme. Throughout this careful process, no damage or harm was brought to the community, their livestock or the lion itself, which is a testament to the collaborative efforts of all involved.  

Predators, including lion, hyaena and cheetah in Liuwa Plain are an important part of a healthy natural landscape, contributing to a balanced ecosystem and to economic opportunities created through sustainable tourism. African Parks, the Zambian Government and the Barotse Royal Establishment have been working closely together since 2003 to restore Liuwa Plain, transforming it into one of the continent’s leading wildlife tourism destinations. Good management of the lion population, coupled with effective monitoring and law enforcement efforts, are a critical component of securing this success, bringing benefits to the people and wildlife that share the landscape. In coordination with the DNPW and with support from the Zambian Carnivore Programme, African Parks will continue to monitor the population in Liuwa Plain while a long-term management strategy is developed.

About African Parks: African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. With the largest counter-poaching force and the most amount of area under protection for any one NGO in Africa, African Parks manages 15 national parks and protected areas in nine countries covering 10.5 million hectares in Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Zambia. For more information visit www.africanparks.org, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook 

Contact: Fran Read, African Parks

[email protected], +27 60 561 60 47