Abelana Game Reserve’s beautiful lions really do rule the roost when it comes to wildlife sightings logged by our team of support staff who are out in the field every day, making sure the reserve is kept safe and secure during lockdown.
It’s fair to say they get the lion’s share of the attention and are far from camera shy, affording everyone who comes across them the chance to take some marvellous pictures.
We introduced an additional three lions – two lionesses and one male – late last year as part of our focused game reintroduction programme, and they have stuck together, creating the nucleus of a small pride which we hope will include cubs very soon. They love sunbathing on the various rocky outcrops between Abelana River Lodge and Abelana Safari Camp and are doing exceptionally well on the hunting front, bringing down a range of prey from giraffe to kudu on a regular basis.
The male seems to love the camera and is regularly photographed by Abelana River Lodge guide Bill Drew who spends his days out in the reserve. He’s an exceptionally relaxed lion and doesn’t mind the attention, happily posing for some stunning photographs, even when on a kill.
Lions are an essential part of the African ecosystem, controlling the numbers of herbivores which, if not regulated, can have drastic effects on biodiversity as competition between them increases. They prey mainly on herd animals and are capable of killing large herbivores like elephants, thanks to their social hunting skills. This is known as a “top-down” population regulation process that is critically important in maintaining balance and preventing too many herbivores from negatively impacting vegetation, reducing food resources for other species.
Male lions can grow to some 3m long, nose to tail-tip, and stand around a metre-and-a-half tall, weighing in at up to 250kg when fully grown. The only truly social cats, lion society is dominated by territory and the retaining of it. Prides are headed up by an adult male or a coalition of up to four adult males (often brothers) who protect their pride and their territory from other males. The prides themselves are family units of related females, juveniles and cubs and can number as many as 40 lions. The lionesses raise the cubs communally and males are usually evicted from the pride at around two years old, moving on to establish their own prides and territories.