Melena and Tika the lions were the first of five big cats transported by LATAM Cargo from Argentina to their new home in South Africa.
The big cats – two lions, one lioness and two tigresses lived in a decommissioned zoo in Santiago del Estero before local authorities arranged their rescue and obtained the permits required for relocation.
The journey to Johannesburg, including land portions lasted approximately 70 hours on the way to their new homes at Ubuntu Wildlife Sanctuary and Drakenstein Lion Park.
Esteban Bojanich, operations manager at LATAM Cargo says the airline ensured it was in full compliance with IATA and LATAM Cargo’s safety live animal standards.
The animals were given regular access to water and measures were taken to reduce their exposure to heat and noise sources.
He says: “This difficult task is especially hard to achieve in a cargo warehouse and air freighter environment but is nonetheless crucial to making their journey as stress-free as possible. And we certainly delivered.”
The transportation was coordinated by freight forwarder Newport Cargo, with the cats being flown onboard a freighter from Buenos Aires to Sao Paulo, where they were transferred to the belly of a passenger aircraft bound for Johannesburg.
Bojanich says: “At LATAM Cargo, we contribute our expertise in the carriage of various live animals, from domestic pets to horses, bulls and rescued wild animals. For example, a few years ago we took the challenge of transporting a group of rescued elephants.”