Lions rescued from conflict zone in Sudan find new home in South Africa

FOUR PAWS transfers eleven lions to its LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary


In November 2023, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS evacuated 48 wild animals from the conflict zone in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. The team returned in January for the emergency rescue of some of the animals, after fighting broke out in the designated safe area near Wad Madani, the animals were evacuated to. On 16th February, eleven lions were transferred to LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa. The lions spent nine months surrounded by the tragedies of war. They are traumatised, weak, emaciated, and prone to injury. They have responded positively to the treatment and care they received in the last weeks. At LIONSROCK, they will receive specialised care tailored to their needs and finally be able to recover.

After a FOUR PAWS team experienced in working in conflict zones safely brought the lions out of Sudan in January, they have been receiving treatments at Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife, a cooperation project of FOUR PAWS in Jordan. Due to their critical health conditions and urgent need for treatment and monitoring, the other rescued animals – three lions, four hyenas and a serval – found a long-term home there. The other animals evacuated in November could be released back into the wild, including deer and birds.

Once all logistics and papers were ready, the lions were able to be transferred to South Africa via cargo flight. The team at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary prepared four interconnected enclosures for the big group of new arrivals which will allow their monitoring and grouping according to their gender and behaviour. All FOUR PAWS sanctuaries have a strict no-breeding policy, therefore the male lions will be vasectomised as soon as possible. The priority for the team now is to ensure that the lions are able recover in their new home.

“We are glad that the tireless efforts of the FOUR PAWS team, with the support of the Sudanese authorities and our global network, paid off. These eleven lions are ambassadors for hope, and they symbolise a need for change in how humans treat animals. 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. We work globally not only to rescue wild animals from cruel and dangerous conditions but also to prevent their suffering in the first place. As we see the lions step on the grass in their new home after being stuck in the middle of a conflict zone for months, we are dedicated to care for and protect them for the rest of their lives. They will hear no more sounds of fighting or witness suffering among each other but enjoy the natural surroundings of our South African sanctuary,”

Josef Pfabigan, FOUR PAWS CEO and President

“We are incredibly relieved to see the lions safe at LIONSROCK. Getting them out of the conflict zone in Sudan was an emotional rollercoaster and a challenge beyond anything we have done before. Working in a conflict zone means to be well prepared with regard to safety and logistics, but also to always expect the unexpected and be flexible. We have now handed over the lions into the excellent care of our colleagues at LIONSROCK, who will make sure that the animals can finally get some rest, peace, and proper care.”

FOUR PAWS veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil, who led the FOUR PAWS team in Sudan

Kim Manning-Cooper

Head of Communications UK

07500 583565

7 - 14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR


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