In its prime, Africa’s densest population of lions (Panthera leo) found refuge in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. More than 500 lions used to roam the park’s territory.
Animals haven’t always found refuge in Gorongosa. Between the years of 1983 and 1992, civil war raged in Mozambique and Gorongosa became the epicenter of conflict. Soldiers from Frelimo and Renamo forces alternately occupied the park, and both sides slaughtered animals for food and ivory. Lion numbers, along with the vast majority of resident wildlife populations, plummeted.
During our four-night stay at Explore Gorongosa, we encountered five lions (four males and one female). On the second night, we came across two young males approximately 14 months in age. Rob Janisch of Explore Gorongosa couldn’t hide his excitement. These two brothers brought the number of known Gorongosa lions to 21 — another sign that lions are on the rebound in the park and that conservation and restoration efforts are working.