But are South African lions the best option for reintroduction to this area? Rwanda is part of eastern Africa, adjacent to Tanzania and closely residing to Kenya, one of the largest populations of lions in Africa.
This new Rwandan population is already going to have to deal with potential issues with inbreeding from the small size of its starting population and being isolated from its neighboring lion populations. But other issues could arise if/when the population is no longer isolated if the founding population is from the wrong stock.
There has been enough research done on lions to have determined that eastern and southern lions cluster separately phylogenetically, meaning they have enough genetic differences to show there is some sort of structure amongst them. There hasn’t been enough research, however, to determine if there are enough genetic differences to differentiate between the two entities, or if we can split them into what some people might refer to as subspecies. Part of the research I am conducting is to further establish whether lions can be classified as regionally distinct, or subspecies, and if translocating southern African lions into eastern African lion territories, and vice versa, would be detrimental or beneficial to the population.
Reintroduction through Translocation
Part of the reason I want to look at the historic genetics and compare it to the modern is to determine if there is a recent or evolutionary background for regional markers. All the anthropogenic effects of the past 100 years could have had a lot of impact on the genetics of lions across the continent and we don't know in which direction, creating or destroying rationality. Hopefully more research and larger sample sizes (like it my study) will help answer these questions.
They say these animals were "selected based on future reproductive potential and their ability to contribute to social cohesion". They may have chosen lions originating so far from Rwanda because with translocations there is the issue of the animals trying to get back to their home but I still wonder why they didn't use lions from Tanzania or Kenya. Lions native to Rwanda probably would have been more closely related to them, cost of transport probably would have been less... I wonder what kind of politics I don't know about it behind this as well...
7/1/2015 - While doing a bit more research combing through article after article reading the same shpeal over and over I finally found something that somewhat confirmed my suspicion but with no real concrete evidence... there is political mumbo jumbo afoot....
The Christian Science Monitor (um, the what?) says that Kenya offered to donate eight lions to Rwanda last year but Kenya's wildlife conservation groups fiercely opposed the plan saying "Rwanda had not sufficiently addressed issues that resulted to the loss of its own lion population."