Lion management

As with any small Reserve that accommodates lion, there is a balance that needs to be maintained with the ungulate or prey populations and Welgevonden is no exception.

The presence of lion on Welgevonden necessitates the introduction of additional prey animals onto the reserve each year to boost the prey population.

The aim being that a balance between the prey population growth and the numbers that the lions eat will become self- sustaining and the prey population will ultimately grow. Welgevonden therefore manages the lion population to comprise two small prides.

However, lion populations can grow at a rapid rate and there are periodically animals that have to be removed. Finding suitable free range homes for these animals has proved difficult as there are a number of reserves in a similar position. This year six animals were up for removal and we managed to find good homes for them.

Two sub-adult males and two sub-adult females (± 2 years old) were donated to the Dinokeng Game Reserve north of Pretoria to act as part of the founding population for this exciting venture. Another coalition of 2 sub-adult males was relocated to the Khamab Kalahari Reserve also to form part of their founder lion population.

Welgevonden realises that lion management is a challenge and is therefore actively involved in the Lion Management Forum. The Forum consists of managers and scientists who are faced with similar lion management challenges. The Forum shares ideas, results, proposals, etc. relating to lion management and improving the methods and ideas around lion on a wider scale.

The participants in the Forum share the aim of attempting to manage lions on small and medium reserves in a more sustainable manner by mimicking natural processes e.g. emigration and immigration of animals into and out of isolated populations via introductions and relocations. Hopefully this will allow most of the lions on small and medium reserves to be part of one or more metapopulations and thereby have a higher conservation value.

July 2013

Two male Welgevonden lions were released together with a lioness (scourced from Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West) into the Mountain Zebra Park outside Cradock. They are first free-roaming lions in the area after an absence of over 130 years.