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After more than 180 years, lions make the Karoo their home again

On Tuesday night, a male and a female crossed the threshold of their boma into their new home at Samara Private Game Reserve.

FILE: Titus, the male lion who was released at the Samara Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A pair of lions is roaming free in the Karoo on Wednesday more than 180 years after the last Karoo lions were wiped out by hunters.

On Tuesday night, a male and a female crossed the threshold of their boma into their new home at Samara Private Game Reserve.

The lions came from the Kwandwe Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape and were released as part of a re-introduction project.

WATCH: Lions return to the Karoo after 180 years

The stage was set for freedom early on Tuesday morning but when the boma was opened, Sekele and Titus the lions seemed uninterested, preferring to lounge around.

But by the time the sun had dipped, curiosity or hunger had got the better of them and left the safety of their enclosure to explore their new home.

Samara founder Sarah Tompkins hopes their presence on the reserve will help restore a once thriving ecosystem.

“Not only were they the apex predators back in this ecosystem, but they are a great driver for economic growth.”

Lead game ranger Julius Mkhize says projects like these are vital to the survival of lions, with their population dropping by 43% in the past 20 years.

“We will start a good foundation with these lions, so soon we will have babies and that will be quite exciting.”

Sekele and Titus will have thousands of square kilometres to roam and a well-stocked game reserve to feed off. It's hoped that there may even be the pitter patter of cub feet sometime in the future.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)

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