White Lions Apex Predators! (March 14, 2007)
The white lion pride has been surviving self-sufficiently at Tsau! for 9.5 months now. Having made a minimum of 75 recorded kills to-date, many during daylight and on moonlit nights, the white lions are proving themselves to be apex predators in their natural habitat.
Next phase in the reintroduction
The WLT’s white lion pride has shown that they are capable of surviving under free-roaming conditions and that they are ready for the next phase in the reintroduction.
Significantly, the white lion pride didn’t need tawny lions to teach them how to hunt successfully. However, the intention of the WLT is still to reintroduce the founder white lions integrated with tawny lions within the greater endemic range of the white lions – as was the case when white lions occurred naturally. Myself and the WLT scientific research team will investigate whether there is any change to the kill frequency, prey selection, hunting strategy, ranging patterns and behaviour of the white lions when integrated with tawny lions.
Timbavati white cubs – no survivors
Unfortunately, none of the white cubs (nor the tawny cubs) born at Ingwelala in the Umbabat Private Nature Reserve (May 2006), and at Tabby’s Crossing in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve (October 2006) survived. The survival rate of lion cubs to adulthood is only 20% (Bothma & Walker 1997) at the best of times. Trophy hunting in the region made it even less likely that the cubs would survive. One of the two dominant male lions of both prides that gave birth to the white cubs was trophy hunted (Sunday Independent May 7th) increasing the chances that one of the nomadic coalitions killed the cubs. Lion cubs are not only killed by intruding / nomadic males after a pride takeover, as is perceived by some – the Machaton Pride in the Timbavati lost 5 of their 7 offspring to the nomadic Gijima Madoda without the pride being taken over.
If an ethical and ecologically responsible hunting protocol is not enforced in the Umbabat and Timbavati Private Nature Reserves, the survival of any future white lions (and evidently a number of the tawny offspring) will remain in serious jeopardy. These reserves are not