PICS: 24 lions from SA starting new life in Mozambique's Zambezi Delta

Twenty-four, beautiful big cats have arrived at their new home, thanks to The Cabela Family Foundation

Co-ordinating one of the biggest lion moves across borders, in partnership with the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance, Zambeze Delta Safaris and Marromeu Safaris, these cats will start their new lives by helping to repopulate the Zambezi Delta in Mozambique.

The wildlife population of the delta was heavily threatened by the Mozambican civil war, and after peace poaching became the new threat. With the help of anti-poaching units and the local community, the non-carnivorous animals had stabilised enough for lions to be returned to the area as the top of the food chain. Carnivores are extremely important to prevent the collapse of biomes.

SEE: Mammoth of a task: How 30 elephants were moved from SA to Mozambique

Wild lions from South Africa's Tembe Elephant Park and Makalali Private Game Reserve were selected to help seed this new population. After being quarantined at Msunduze River Lodge for a period, the lions were sedated and started their journey to Mozambique through Mkuze and Kruger International Airport. 

Since their arrival in Mozambique, they have been in quarantine bomas where the different lion groups were socialised to form larger prides, increasing their chances of successfully adjusting to their new environment in the delta.

ALSO SEE: Rhinos without Borders sets 100-strong relocation target

Since Sunday, five of the 24 have been released so far according to the project's Facebook page, and will continue the rest of the week. The anti-poaching team from Zambeze Delta Safaris has been taking the lead. They have been making vital strides in the conservation of the delta and making it possible for the lions to move to their new 2.5 million-acre home.

According to Club of Mozambique, the lion population is expected to increase to 500 in the space of 30 years, which will contribute to increasing the world's lion population by 10% over the next two decades.

The last big lion relocation was in 2015, when 33 rescued lions were flown from South America to the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa, where they will live out their days as they cannot be rewilded.

SEE: Ethiopia park relocation aims to protect wolves from extinction

Check out the pics from the big move below:

three tranquillised lions lying on the ground with

Hoods placed over the lions' eyes help to reduce stress. (Photo: 24 Lions)

Tranquillised lion carried in stretcher

The use of a canvas “stretcher” makes it easier for the humans and more comfortable for the sleeping lion. (Photo: 24 Lions)

Tranquillised lion lying on a bakkie with face cov

On the tailgate awaiting transport to the bomas - the final leg of the journey. (Photo: 24 Lions)

tranquillised lions in a plane

A full plane of lions! Pilot Roger at the wheel and vet Ryan Van Devender on board to keep the girls asleep. (Photo: 24 Lions)

Three men crouching by a tranquillised lion

Mark Haldane and Anton Smit sit with chief Domingo Bichote and welcome the lions to the area. (Photo: 24 Lions)

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