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EC game reserve hopes reintroduction of lions will restore ecosystem

A pair of young lions are making themselves at home in the Karoo almost 200 years after hunters wiped out the last of their kind in the region.

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 young lions are making themselves at home in the Karoo almost 200 years after hunters wiped out the last of their kind in the region.

The lions were released into the Samara Private Game Reserve on Tuesday.

The two came from the Kwandwe Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. They were released as part of a reintroduction project.

For at least 180 years, no one has heard a lion roar in the Karoo but now things are changing.

Two lions, a male and female have walked to freedom and a new home at the Samara Game Reserve.

The apex predators spent six weeks in an enclosure in the reserve to allow them to bond and adapt to their new environment.

On Tuesday, the gates were thrown open and the reserve was theirs to roam.

But in true cat fashion, they took 15 hours to decide to explore.

Samara general manager Marnus Ochse says that on their first day back in the wild, the pair decided to settle in one of the thick valleys near the mountain.

"It is new territory, it is new scents and they don't know if there are other lions on the property so I think it was quite adventurous for them."

Lead ranger Julius Mkhize says that the lions' movements and feeding patterns will be monitored as they've been fitted with tracking collars.

"They'll be moving all over the reserve trying to see how far the reserve stretches. For other animals it will be a bit of a shock to the system."

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

WATCH: Lions return to the Karoo after 180 years