Some fantastic news from Abelana Game Reserve is that our two new gorgeous lioness “sisters” that were released onto the reserve late last year are doing wonderfully well and thriving in their new home!
Caught on video on a recent game drive from Abelana River Lodge, the pair of lovely lion ladies were spotted patrolling their territory, perfectly relaxed and at ease in the wonderfully lush and verdant summer bush.
The lionesses were brought in from a reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal towards the end of last winter, along with a male from the Eastern Cape, with the intention of complementing and boosting the existing lion population on the reserve with an injection of a new genes.
The importance of introducing new genetics into lion populations on reserves like Abelana is critical to ensure pride integrity and to prevent in-breeding, allowing young males who leave prides to find unrelated females and form their own prides. There was much excitement at Abelana around the arrival and subsequent release of our new lions.
The two lionesses were kept in a large holding enclosure alongside the male, who had his own adjacent enclosure, until they were fully habituated to their new surroundings and familiar with one another, with minimum human interaction and presence to ensure their ultimate release onto the reserve would be successful. It’s great to know that their introduction and release has been such an unmitigated success, with regular sightings of the male reported, and also reports of mating taking place which will hopefully see the arrival of cubs in a few short months’ time, cementing the formation of a new pride.
The lion is under tremendous threat, with fewer than 20,000 left in the wild across Africa. This is largely as a result of loss of habitat and persecution because of livestock losses in rural communities, so it’s essential to encourage and properly manage healthy wild lion populations wherever we can!
Bringing in the new lions was an important part of an ongoing programme of species reintroduction that underpins Abelanas commitment to conservation and species diversity and its mandate from the Mashishimale community to ensure the reserve retains its wilderness status. It’s also a demonstration of the reserve’s determination to contribute to the growth of a healthy wild lion population, not just in the Greater Kruger region but also in South Africa and beyond. We’ll be keeping you posted regularly with updates on our new lions, so watch this space!