Qatar Airways Cargo has once again assisted Animal Defenders International (ADI) by transporting six young lions from the illegal wildlife trade to the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in Johannesburg. Known as the 'Kuwait 6', the males Muheeb, Saham, Shujaa, Saif, and females Dhubiya and Aziza were cared for at Kuwait Zoo, a Qatar Airways Cargo statement said yesterday.

ADI, contacted by Kuwait government officials to help the lions, offered them a home at their 455-acre sanctuary in South Africa.

Mark Drusch, chief officer (Cargo) at Qatar Airways Cargo, said: “We are proud to once again be supporting ADI, this time in bringing these six beautiful lions home to Africa. Our WeQare Rewild the Planet initiative is our commitment to returning wildlife and endangered species back to their natural habitat, free of charge.

“It takes a lot of effort and logistics for our team to organise moving such large animals; from the logistics at the airports, loading and unloading the animals from the aircraft, to ensuring the correct cages and well being of the animals are in place, but it is something we are all collectively very proud and passionate to be a part of.”

Jan Creamer, president, ADI, added: “The Kuwait 6 lions have their whole lives ahead of them and will have acres of space at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary. We are thankful to Qatar Airways Cargo and their WeQare programme in once again supporting us by covering the cost of the air transport back to Africa. We are also very thankful to the ADI supporters who are helping to fund their care.”

Alzahra Aljanabi, Animal Welfare Department, Public Authority of Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources in Kuwait, thanked both the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary and Qatar Airways Cargo. "People underestimate the risks of having wild animals as pets. They may be magnificent creatures but they are also predators. We need more awareness to combat wildlife trafficking,” he added.

Qatar Airways Cargo recently opened its new state-of-the-art Animal Centre and relaunched its Live product, setting new benchmarks in the transport of live animals. The leading transporter flew over 550,000 animals in 2023.