New male lions

Two new young male lions were introduced to Welgevonden from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

They will be kept in the boma on Welgevonden for a few weeks to allow them to settle down and to get to know each other as they originally came from different groups in the Kgalagadi.

However, they are settling down well and should be released from the boma soon.

The two males are originally from the Twee-Rivieren/Mata-Mata region in Kgalagadi. They are 2½-3 years old and would have been expelled from their pride not so long ago, making them good candidates for translocation. They were captured by the National Park staff in Kgalagadi and held in a boma for about two weeks. Apparently, there was a bit of hostility between them in the beginning, but by the time they were captured in the boma they had started to accept each other.

We caught them in the boma at Kgalagadi early on the morning of 13 June. After radio collars were fitted, microchips implanted and the necessary tranquilizers are given they were loaded, each in his own crate, ready for the long road to their new home. We left the Kalahari at 11 am and arrived back at Welgevonden at 2 am the following morning after a 13-hour journey! The tranquilizers did the job and the two boys traveled well, sleeping most of the way.

They were released into the boma at sunrise the following morning. Since being in the boma they have relaxed towards vehicles, obviously not being used to many vehicles in the vast expanses of the Kalahari.

It was decided to introduce more males into the reserve for several reasons:

  • It is important to introduce new genes into small isolated lion populations as on Welgevonden to avoid inbreeding depression before it can become a problem.
  • Also, with the introduction of more males, it is hoped that it will stabilize the pride dynamics on the reserve. In small populations, it is often found that males stay in control of pride for long periods, and because of the low turnover of pride males, the survival rate for cubs is unnaturally high.
  • By increasing the number of males on the reserve it is hoped that the turnover of pride males will increase, which should result in a more natural population control where males will kill more cubs, and where less interference from management is necessary to control the population.
  • The increase in males on the reserve should cause the pride males to patrol their territories more extensively, which should result in an increase in sightings of lion males.

However, as they are still young it should be a while before they start to challenge the old resident males for the prides. In the meantime, we hope that they will adapt well to the reserve, and grow up to be future pride males.

Update:
September 2007

The two male lions have been released from the boma and now roam free on the reserve. They moved to the northern and western parts of the reserve, where they are known to have killed 2 baboons and a zebra.

They stayed together for the first two weeks after their release, but have split up since the end of August. One of them are still in the west in the Manuel Gate area, while the other moved to the north close to the Main Gate, probably looking for the females that are often in the area. Hopefully the two will join up again soon