Tag Archives: Lion

The King and Prime Minister of Imfolozi

This morning we spent some time with two magnificent male lions in the far western reaches of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.

One of them was bruised and battered with battle scars all over his body. Obviously he’s the enforcer for the King; the light-maned male with the relatively unscathed hide and face.

Sadly, today was our final full day here at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi. Tomorrow we only have the distance between here at Mpila Camp and the Memorial Gate to savour this pristine wilderness one last time before heading back to Pretoria.

 

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Alone time with the King of Beasts

A week ago, on an early morning drive along the Sand River near Skukuza in the Kruger National Park, this magnificent male lion popped out of the thickets to patrol and mark his territory along the road.

After spending quite a bit of time with him as he walked at pace along the river road, mostly within arm’s length of the vehicle, another car arrived on the scene, and I drove off in order to allow them the thrill of some alone time with The King as well.

Kings of Addo

Two male lions waited for us next to the road as we were driving from Addo‘s new, soon to be opened Nyathi Camp early on Friday morning. We may only have spent a few minutes in their audience, but the experience will remain a thrilling memory forever.

Get lost!

Ever wondered what a lion’s face looks like when you disturb him and his lady love?

Like this!

Get out of my face

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World Lion Day

The 10th of August has been designated World Lion Day; “An independant campaign working to highlight the importance of the lion globally and to raise lion conservation awareness worldwide“.

These regal creatures are under immense threat, highlighted by the recent “hunting” of Cecil, a Zimbabwean lion known around the world and one of the subjects of a lion research project that’s been running for many years. Sadly, Cecil’s death was not an isolated incident and many more of his species die in this fashion daily. Hopefully, the quite justified uproar over the killing of this specific individual will result in change for the better, ensuring a brighter future for Africa’s biggest cat.

It will be a sad day indeed when the lion’s roar no longer rumbles across Africa’s wild places.

Last year we dedicated a special blogpost to the lion on World Lion Day.

World Lion Day

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi’s tree climbing lions

Lions are not generally known for their tree-climbing abilities, and there’s only a handful of prides on the African continent that seem to have this skill and regularly use it. We’ve often heard of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi‘s lions‘ tree-climbing tendencies, but we never saw this for ourselves, despite visiting the Park frequently and enjoying many sightings of these regal cats there.

That is until early morning on Boxing Day 2014, and what an unbelievable sight! We found a lioness (on the ground) with two rather large cubs in a small thorn tree. I did not think that something as big as a lion could get so high up in a flimsy-looking thorn tree, and then be so well camouflaged at that!

Lion

Panthera leo

The lion. Such a short name for such a magnificent creature.

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If there’s one animal that draws people from all over the world to our country’s wild places more than any other, it has to be the “King of the jungle”.

The lion is Africa’s biggest cat; males weighing over 200kg and standing up to 1.2m high at the shoulder.

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They’re very adaptable creatures, inhabiting almost any habitat where there’s enough prey to sustain them. They’ll prey on anything from insects to crocodiles, buffaloes, rhinos, hippos and even elephants, and can consume up to 40kg of meat in a single sitting. And despite their association with royalty, they’re not above stealing carcasses from other predators, or taking carrion. They’ll drink regularly if water is available, but otherwise can go without it for extended periods.

It is well known that lions are the most sociable of cats, living in prides that can number over 30 animals where food is abundant. These prides are controlled by single or coalitions of up to 6 adult males, defending territories in which the core of the pride, the adult females, can safely raise their cubs. The strength of the pride lies in the defending of territory, hunting of large prey animals, and communal care of the cubs. Depending on the availability of food, the territories can cover areas as large as 2000 square kilometres, scentmarked by animals of both sexes and loudly proclaimed by their distinctive roaring. Neighbouring prides will get involved in serious fights over territory, and when new males take over a pride it is seldom a bloodless affair, more often than not killing the cubs sired by the ousted males (who themselves are lucky if they escape alive). All in all, the life of a lion is not an easy one, and their lifespan is limited to only 12 to 15 years in the wild, if they reach adulthood at all.

Today, despite all the reverence afforded to it through the ages as a symbol of nobility and bravery, the lion is a species under threat. Ever increasing human populations, and their accompanying livestock, is shrinking the habitat and prey available to these powerful cats by the day. They are being persecuted as livestock killers. They’re being poached for their skin and heads as trophies, and for their bones, used in traditional Asian “medicine”, “tiger wine” and “love potions”. There’s many so-called “captive-breeding facilities” where lions are exploited for the same purposes. To top it off, the dwindling populations are susceptible to disease and inbreeding. Though estimates range widely, there’s probably no more than 30,000 wild lions remaining in Africa (maybe as few as 10,000), and perhaps 400 in India. In South Africa, there’s sizable populations finding protection in the Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, with smaller numbers in several other reserves, including Pilanesberg, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, iSimangaliso, Tembe, Mapungubwe, MarakeleAddo, Karoo and Mountain Zebra.

The 10th of August has been designated World Lion Day; “An independent campaign working to highlight the importance of the lion globally and to raise lion conservation awareness worldwide

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