Tag Archives: Lion

Waiting hours for a glimpse at a White Lion

White Lions are exceedingly rare and especially so in the wild. Several zoos, “safari parks” and circuses around the world house White Lions, but these are often horribly inbred. These lions are not albinos, instead being the result of a mating between two lions carrying a recessive gene for white (leucistic) fur instead of the usual tawny colouration. Naturally White Lions are only ever found, from time to time, in South Africa’s Lowveld, where the Kruger National Park and a few renowned private nature reserves are situated. As far as wild White Lions are concerned, at present, there are known to be two young white cubs in the same pride that roam around Orpen in western Kruger and the adjacent Timbavati reserve, and a single young male born to a pride near Satara and fairly wide-roaming since he and his brothers were ejected from their natal pride.

It is this latter individual that we came across on the 3rd of January 2020, the final full day of our Satara Summer. Having fairly often visited the Kruger National Park my entire life, it was always my, hitherto unfulfilled, wish to see a truly WILD White Lion, so you will appreciate just how excited we were at this opportunity! It was an exceedingly hot day, and on hot days lions are seldom very active. So we sat for hours in our vehicle in the blazing sun, waiting, hoping, that he might get up, and move around just a little, so that we can get more than just a glimpse. He obliged, for a minute or two only, to move from the large tree where he was lying with his three brothers to a smaller shrub a few meters away. That was it. He didn’t move again until we had to leave to get back to camp before the gates closed. But we were thrilled and grateful for the chance to see such an enigmatic animal.

My Mom is stronger than you!

While out driving one rainy afternoon near Satara in the Kruger National Park, we came upon a lonely and obviously terrified lion cub, running in the road and trying to hide in roadside bushes, all the while calling for his pride. We were still feeling sorry for the little one when suddenly his demeanor changed totally – he picked himself up and confidently started running past our car. It is then that we noticed his mother standing, and looking quite intimidating, behind the assembled vehicles, ready to attack anyone or anything that threatens her little one. When he reached her they both gave the human spectators a parting glance, joined the rest of the pride and confidently walked off into the bush. The encounter made a wonderful impression on all of us.

You don’t ALWAYS find lions behind EVERY bush, you know..?

When we visited in September, there appeared to be a convention of Lions around Lower Sabie Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park. Whether you were following the river in an easterly or westerly direction from camp, you would have been very unlucky not to encounter at least one pride of lions within the first 4 kilometers of your drive.

On one occasion we even saw two lions right in front of camp while we were taking an afternoon stroll on the lawns! They spooked a herd of fleet-footed impala, alerting us to their presence as well.

Finding Lions in Kruger is not always this easy. With the dry season now coming to an end, surface water is hard to come by, and the lions take advantage of this by ambushing herbivores coming to slake their thirst from the Sabie. We also found lions in other parts of the park while we were driving around, and in all instances they were close to or at a water source, lying in wait.

The lady that stops traffic

This lioness was using the bridge outside Lower Sabie in the Kruger National Park as her own personal catwalk, settling down to give her adoring fans some close up views of her beauty – and I was lucky to get a front-row seat!

But lions aren’t always such show-offs – sometimes they like to keep their distance, and other times they lie hidden in plain sight…

 

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.

 

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!