Lion workshop on Welgevonden

The overarching management objective for Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, as informed by the Articles of Association and the needs and expectations of the owners, is to:

Facilitate acceptable short-term game viewing without compromising long-term biodiversity.

To this end, the management of Welgevonden has embarked on a lion control programme as motivated by an observed trajectory of change towards the total loss of prey species and by the presence of highly inbred individuals within the Welgevonden lion population.

This programme has entailed the removal of lions to reduce predation pressure on prey species and to enable the introduction of new genetic material.

Although lion management in confined reserves is a widespread problem and even though the above approach is consistent with industry norms and standards an informal one-day workshop was held on Welgevonden to subject the Welgevonden approach to scientific and management peer review and to interrogate any other available options and the risks, benefits and constraints associated with these.

The workshop, held at Ekuthuleni Lodge on Welgevonden, was a huge success. It was attended by 15 scientists and managers of other parks and reserves, bringing together a wealth of experience and knowledge. Lively discussions were at the order of the day, and some very good ideas were thrown around.

Several of the issues that were discussed are also experienced in other small reserves and we hoped that by bringing together some scientists and managers of other reserves that had faced similar issues previously, that it would stir some debate and new thoughts for lion management in the future.