Eleven lions rescued from conflict-hit Sudan arrive in South Africa


(LONDON) — Eleven lions rescued from conflict-hit Sudan have found a new home in South Africa, animal welfare organization Four Paws has announced.

The lions — rescued among a total of 48 animals from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, the heart of the conflict — have been transferred to the LionsRock Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem, South Africa.

“The lions spent nine months surrounded by the tragedies of war. They are traumatised, weak, emaciated, and prone to injury,” said Four Paws in a statement sent to ABC News. “Getting them out of the conflict zone in Sudan was an emotional rollercoaster and a challenge beyond anything we have done before.”

The lions were initially rescued from Sudan’s capital Khartoum in November 2023 and evacuated to a designated safe area in Wad Madani, capital of Sudan’s Al Jazirah state.

However, as fighting reached Wad Madani following the advance of the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group amid intense clashes with the Sudanese Armed Forces, the lions were evacuated in an “emergency rescue” in January.

Once out of Sudan, the lions were taken to the Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife reserve in Souf, Jordan where they received initial treatment. Four Paws told ABC a total of 15 lions, four hyenas and one serval cat were transported to Jordan. One of the lions died there, the group said.

“Due to their critical health condition and urgent need for treatment and monitoring, the other rescued animals — three lions, four hyenas and a serval — found a long-term home there,” said Four Paws.

Other animals, including deer and birds, that were evacuated alongside the lions in November 2023 could be released back into the wild, Four Paws says.

Four Paws says it is glad “tireless efforts” in conjunction with the Sudanese authorities and a global network of organizations paid off.

“These eleven lions are ambassadors for hope,” the group said.

It added, “Sadly, more and more conflicts arise all around the world, causing humanitarian crises but also posing a threat to captive animals dependent on human care.”

Decades of conflict in Sudan have severely impacted the Northeast African nation’s wildlife, and wildlife habitats. Researchers have found that “armed conflict has a largely detrimental effect on wildlife habitat populations through tactical military strategies and effects on institutions, movement of people and economies.”

Dr. Amir Khalil, a Four Paws veterinarian, said the lions can finally get some “rest, peace and proper care.”

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