A New White Lion Cub in the Klaserie
Dec20

A New White Lion Cub in the Klaserie

After some speculation over the past few months about a pregnant female lion in the Klaserie, it seems that there is indeed a new addition! Guests at Africa on Foot  had one of the most spectacular and rarest sightings this morning when they came across a tawny lioness and her little white lion cub. There was a sub-adult male with the mother and baby and they were lying in the grass deep within the Ross Pride Territory in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. As of now, we are waiting to be able to confirm that these lions are part of the famous Ross Pride that takes residence near nThambo Tree Camp and Africa on Foot. The white lion gene is highly uncommon and very few white lions exist in the wild. We know that one of the dominant males in the Ross Pride carries the white gene, as there has previously been a white lion cub born as a result of his mating with one of the Ross females. Sadly, there has been high cub mortality rate over the last couple of years and the white cubs that have been born in the area, have died. The Ross Pride has come back fighting and there are now 5 tawny cubs growing strong. The possible new addition of a little white lion cub to the pride is fantastic news and we certainly hope to see it...

Read More
No such thing as “Sustainable Lion Hunting” – by Brett Thomson
Apr10

No such thing as “Sustainable Lion Hunting” – by Brett Thomson

I remember reading somewhere that Derek & Beverley Joubert (the famous Nat Geo Wildlife Filmmakers) who have worked with wild lions for almost 20 years said that for every dominant male lion hunted, another 14 lions die as a result of the carnage created in the pride dynamics.   So the below from LionAid  & Pieter Kat is another nail in the coffin of hunters looking to hunt Male Lions in their prime.   “Those who promote the concept that lions can be hunted sustainably claim that males older than 6 yrs can be shot without consequence – after all they have already reproduced by that age, and can then be classified as “excess males”. I have always had problems with such theories based on Serengeti studies and computer models. When I studied lions for eleven years in the Okavango Delta of Botswana it was clear that males do not even begin to think about taking over prides until they are about 5-6 yrs, and after their initial reproductive period within “their” pride they begin exploring neighbouring pride territories. If they find females in oestrus during their explorations they will mate with them. Males often voluntarily abandon prides and take over others where there are more reproductively receptive females. Male coalitions are fluid, and older males evicted from prides will often join up with younger males to form new coalitions and take over other prides. Careful studies have shown that this model of male reproductive flexibility occurs in many other areas besides the Okavango, and that a male lion’s reproductive potential encompasses much more than an initial chance.   The Serengeti research, based on outdated genetic techniques liable to misinterpretation of results, insists that all cubs born in a pride belong to the pride males. And that males take over a pride when they are 4 yrs old, and once they are replaced by new males two years later, have no further reproductive opportunities. Hence they become “excess males” that sadly wander the savannas for the rest of their lives – so they might as well be shot by trophy hunters to put them out of their misery.   What is equally sad is that such highly questionable “information” on male lion reproduction has been accepted as gospel by trophy hunters and that such hunters and their supporting “scientists” actually believe in the concept of “excess males”.   Now there is genetic paternity evidence that all is not well with such absurd theories. In an article in Molecular Ecology, researchers found that in Etosha National Park in Namibia, “extra-group paternity”(EGP) (cubs sired by males other than the pride males)...

Read More
The Mapogo Lions Heritage – by Courteney Blunden
Nov15

The Mapogo Lions Heritage – by Courteney Blunden

Courteney Blunden, owner of Africa on Foot, used to guide in the Sabi Sand. He reflects on what lions mean to a guide, as well as the Mapogo Lions Heritage and another emerging Mega-Pride in the Kruger Park. “For as long as man has roamed the African plains, forests, mountains and deserts, he has shared this space with a multitude of creatures great and small; from giant elephants to tiny fire ants. But no creature captivates the attention of human beings more than that of the LION. Their appearances are impressive; the males’ crowning mane, the way lionesses stalk through the dark savannah, their muscles visible through their fur, as they move stealthily with a soundless language of co-operation. In fact, they are such powerful beings that their roars alone are enough to bring some folk to tears with primal fear, a feeling that reminds one of yesteryear when we, as humans, competed for and sometimes became the prey! Lions have fascinated me for as long as I can remember and will do so for years to come. I have had the privilege of working in regions with spectacular individuals, coalitions and prides. Lions don’t follow specific guidelines and often do precisely the opposite. Their habits are not set in stone and they are, indeed, very dynamic. In the Southern Sabi Sand Wildtuin early on in the new millennium, there were a number of powerful prides that inhabited the southern and eastern borders of the park adjacent to the Kruger National Park. These prides had many things in common, but what stood out was the sheer size of their coalitions. It is not unusual for two or three male lions to group together in a combined effort to rule a kingdom. They are often brothers or siblings of a close age who, once rejected by the pride’s dominant males, gang together and begin a life of pillage and violence, until ultimately dominating a group of females and their own territory! What was unusual about this area was that the coalitions were made up of at least four or more male lions. What was the reason for this? Possibly, territories were not very big and the prides needed extra security and clout when it came to dominance. As humans, we will never know. The pride that lived on Kingston (Lion Sands) along the Sabi River where I worked was known as the Southern Pride and they were led by three fearsome males which were known in other parts as the Roller-Coaster Males.  Starting off as five, one brother was killed during a buffalo hunt, while the other took to a...

Read More
White Lion War at the Kruger – by Brett Thomson
Sep03

White Lion War at the Kruger – by Brett Thomson

Guests of Africa on Foot and nThambo Tree Camp were treated to a very rare and special sighting the other day. Both camps are located in the Klaserie area of the Kruger Park and are home to the Big Five, as well as the special wild white lions! The resident pride for both camps is the Ross Pride. This is a very special pride of lions as over the past two years they have battled against the loss of their original pride males, which created a very disjointed pride for a year. However over the past few months, the new resident dominant males have slowly brought back the protection and stability they need to thrive. In the past year the pride has given birth to two wild white lion cubs, both of which unfortunately died. However the pride now has another three young cubs as well two older male cubs. Occasionally guests visiting these two affordable Kruger Camps also get to see the Giraffe Pride of lions. This pride also carries the white lion gene, and they currently have two white lionesses. It was one of these white lionesses that got herself into a little bit of trouble with the Ross Pride. Rein Kock, Senior Ranger at Africa on Foot, was on game drive with some guests. They were trailing a herd of buffalo when the call came in that the Ross Pride was following the buffalo. Rein responded and got his guests into position to witness a truly magnificent sighting! As the Ross Pride was following the buffalo, they started roaring and broke out into a run. Something was definitely brewing and soon enough they noticed the Giraffe Pride of lions on the other side of the buffalo herd in Ross Pride territory! With the Ross Pride males fully ready to defend their pride and territory, the Giraffe Pride tucked their tails between their legs and beat a hasty retreat back towards their territory in the Timbavati area of the Kruger. It was then however that the white lioness made a decision that nearly cost her her life. She started chasing one of the smaller Ross females, and soon got into trouble when three Ross females came to her defence. She immediately adopted a submissive pose in a bid to save her life. The Ross females quickly asserted their dominance and started attacking her. Luckily for the white lioness, she backed into an electric fence (that is the boundary of the Klaserie and some neighbouring private land), and when the lead lioness from the Ross Pride made contact with the fence, she got a shock and a fright...

Read More
Ghost Male Lions look to take over the Machaton Pride – by Brett Thomson
Jul16

Ghost Male Lions look to take over the Machaton Pride – by Brett Thomson

News from Motswari, Tanda Tula and Kings Camp is that the Machaton Pride is due for a take-over pretty soon. All three camps have reported on the presence of two new males – nicknamed the Ghost Males – that have arrived into area after the vacuum left by the Timbavati Males. These two males have already killed two of the seven sub-adult males of the Machaton Pride. The last juvenile Machaton male was killed when the two new males pushed them off a giraffe kill. This is just another indication of how tough it is for lion cubs to make it through to maturity and there is close to a 70% mortality rate within lion prides. The two new males are very large and muscular, however they still sport “punk rocker” manes and the Kings Camp rangers estimate them at 6-7 years of age. Although they look powerful the commercial lodges are not all convinced that they will be the next Kings of the Timbavati. However there is high hope as with the Timbavati Males gone for almost a year now, the lion pride dynamics have been very sporadic and unsettled. Not only do powerful dominant male coalitions allow lion prides to thrive, they also ensure good quality sightings for commercial lodges and their paying guests! You can view the traversing areas of the Timbavati Safari Lodges here. Another post on the Ghost Lions here as they might move closer to the Ross Pride with the white lion cub.        ...

Read More
Mapogo Lion Conquerors doing well – by Brett Thomson
Jul13

Mapogo Lion Conquerors doing well – by Brett Thomson

Paddy and the team at Savanna have sent out the below update: “The lions have enjoyed a successful hunting period, especially the Selati males that have continued their onslaught on the buffalo and managed to bring down two buffalo bulls on separate occasions. This meant that viewing was primarily of them feeding and lazing around the carcasses. The Ottawa females joined the Selati males at the second kill and the males soon forgot about feeding, as their attention turned to courting. One of the courting pairs displayed some particularly aggressive mating which allowed for some spectacular photography. Not to be outdone, the lionesses also made substantial kills, with the Ottawa pride killing a female buffalo and the Ximungwe pride killing a large Kudu bull. The Ottawa pride, however, lost most of their kill to a large group of hyenas that drove them off during the night. The Ximungwe pride did not give the hyenas an opportunity, though, as they hastily finished off the carcass, with some frenzied feeding at times. When the pride moved off, only a few scraps remained for a lonely hyena which competed with the numerous vultures that had also accumulated in the area. Amongst the hooded and white-backed vultures, a lappet-faced vulture also made a rare appearance.” Copyright © Photographs taken by Paddy Hagelthorn, Neil Whyte, David Wilson and Greg Coates      ...

Read More
Mapogo Lions chased towards Earth Lodge – by Brett Thomson
Jul10

Mapogo Lions chased towards Earth Lodge – by Brett Thomson

Richard de Gouveia from Sabi Sabi reports this morning that one of the Mapogo was seen running at high speed past Earth Lodge, and in hot pursuit were the Kruger Males. The sighting was accompanied by lots of roaring and aggression! It was before game drive, so they were not able to follow immediately. On subsequent follow ups it seems that it was a small altercation with minor injuries. The fact that the Mapogo lions have now been chased back towards Earth Lodge seems to indicate that they really have nowhere to go anymore, and it is only  a matter of time before they face their demise. After being chased today they are now hanging out very close to the edge of the border of the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. Although we all love the Mapogo I was chatting to a friend of mine, Courteney Blunden, (who used to guide at Lion Sands and who is now the owner of Africa on Foot), and he witnessed the Mapogo establishing their territories in the early days. He mentioned that they were the most vicious, violent lion coalition he has ever seen, and slowly but surely it seems that you reap what you sow! The life of a male lion is not easy! I was lucky enough to see the Mapogo when I visited Savanna Private Game Reserve, and we came across five of them resting. To come across five males lions lying in the bush, on an open safari 4×4 is intimidating enough and the sighting remains with me today! As a memento I bought the below picture of them drinking at a waterhole and the photo was taken by Paddy Hagelthorn. It is now framed and takes pride of place in my home office! Long live the Mighty Mapogo! News flash! Just heard from Mele Andru that apparently the one Mapogo’s testicles have been badly damaged in the fighting this morning. Not good news at all.  ...

Read More