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Captive cubs hold key to restoring Uganda's lion population

Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - 01:57

Nov. 7 - The birth of three lion cubs at a Ugandan wildlife sanctuary has boosted an initiative to re-populate the country with one of its greatest tourist attractions and educate younger generations about conservation. Rob Muir reports.

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Biza is a proud and protective mother. Her new cubs, just a month old, are thriving and staff at Uganda's Wildlife Education Center are delighted. The cubs are at the forefront of a breeding programme designed to restore the country's wild population, thought to number fewer than 400. A single cub born to another lioness at the centre is being raised by hand. Its mother has no milk of her own so it's being fed milk formula imported from South Africa. The cub is doing well, but the centre's Atim Belinda says it's hungry and the milk supply won't last long. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ATIM BELINDA, UGANDA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, SAYING: "Partners in South Africa donated the milk to us and we are very grateful for that but once this milk is over we will need some more because this animal needs to continue feeding and that is where we entice other people, well wishers, people who are nature lovers to step in as animal parents." The natural parents, the lionesses were brought from the UK in 2008, both for breeding and education. Wildlife authorities say teaching children about the importance of conservation is key to the lion's long-term survival. Over the last 60 years, Africa's lion population has been reduced by half and Belinda says exposure to the cubs will help Uganda reverse the trend. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ATIM BELINDA, UGANDA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, SAYING: "These cubs have given us an opportunity to further our work in conservation education." And the sanctuary is hopeful that these cubs won't be their last. They say Kibonge, the father of all three, seems more than willing to keep doing his part.

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Captive cubs hold key to restoring Uganda's lion population

Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - 01:57

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