New lions for iSimangaliso

Lions released into boma

Three new lions have been introduced into iSimangaliso Wetland Park, in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The male lions from Tswalu Game Reserve in the Northern Cape, arrived at their new home in the uMkhuze section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park on 9 September 2016.

The lions are genetically distinct from the pride of 13 lions presently residing in iSimangaliso (all of which are from the same blood line). The trio will remain in bomas for a few weeks before being released into the wild next month to acquaint themselves with the existing pride. This introduction is part of an ambitious plan to bring lions back to iSimangaliso after 44 years.

The re-introduction of lions to iSimangaliso Wetland Park began at the end of 2013. The first family of four lions – from Tembe Elephant Park – were released in December 2013 and comprised an adult female and three sub-adult offspring. This was followed in 2014 by the coalition of two males (brothers) and three females.

CEO of iSimangaliso Wetland Park and his dedicated team are passionate about realising their dream for the park. He says, “This historic introduction brings iSimangaliso closer to achieving its conservation vision: the full restoration of eco-system functioning, and the re-establishment of the migratory patterns of historically occurring animal populations – from the top of the Lebombo mountains to the sea – as they occurred in the times of Shaka and before fencing fragmented the landscape and constrained animal movements. It is a reversal of the historic decimation of game for apartheid military bases, commercial plantations and other agriculture.”

iSimangaliso CEO, Andrew Zaloumis with one of the three new male lions.

iSimangaliso CEO, Andrew Zaloumis with one of the three new male lions.

September is Heritage Month in South Africa, and iSmangaliso certainly waves the South African flag very high when it comes to our natural and wildlife heritage: iSimangaliso Wetland Park was declared South Africa’s very first Unesco World Heritage site and is one of the most diverse parks on the African continent – a notable “Big 7″* destination.

* Big 7 is a term coined for destinations that have the Big 5 – lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo and leopard as well as marine “rockstars” – whales and sharks.

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