Arrival and release of Sudan Lions to LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary

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

FOUR PAWS transfers eleven lions to its LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary 


Bethlehem, 17 February – In November 2023, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS evacuated 48 wild animals from the middle of the conflict zone in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. They returned this 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. Now, eleven lions were transferred to LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa on 16 February, ready to start their new life. The lions spent nine months surrounded by the tragedies of war. They are traumatised, weak, emaciated, and prone to injury. They 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 in peace.

After a FOUR PAWS team experienced in working in conflict zones safely brought the lions out of Sudan in January, they have been cared for and receiving treatments at Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife, a cooperation project of FOUR PAWS in Jordan. Due to their critical health condition 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 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 of the team is now to provide the lions with all the care they need and help them recover from the ordeal of the last months.

“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,” says FOUR PAWS CEO and President Josef Pfabigan.

“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,” says FOUR PAWS veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil, who led the FOUR PAWS team in Sudan.

A home for around 100 rescued big cats in South Africa

LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary is one of the 13 wild animal sanctuaries and cooperation projects established by FOUR PAWS worldwide. It is currently home to around 100 rescued big cats, including lions, tigers and leopards. They were rescued from private keeping, circuses, zoos or conflict zones all across the globe. The sanctuary encompasses a total area of 1,250 hectares. The land is also inhabited by other typical South African species that live freely like zebras and antelopes, as well as a wide variety of bird species that have found refuge on the property. 


Public Relations Officer ZA

Deidre Daniels

Public Relations Officer

+27 (0)21 702 4277

+27 (0)78 675 8220

9B Bell Crescent, Westlake Business Park, 
Green Building, Cape Town, 7945

A Public Relations professional with over eight years’ experience in fostering positive relationships between organisations and media.

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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