This season at Gondwana Game Reserve on the Garden Route, we celebrate the birth of two free roaming lion cubs. These are believed to be the first wild lion cubs born in the Southern Cape for the last 150 years. The award winning, Western Cape Private Game Reserve has embarked on an ambitious conservation project to restore and rehabilitate the 11000-hectare fynbos reserve by populating it with indigenous game. The birth of the two lion cubs marks the success of the efforts implemented to encourage the self-sustaining wild lion pride of Gondwana.
It is believed that lions that historically occurred in the Southern Cape were similar to the black maned lions of the Kalahari Desert. It was decided to introduce a male lion from the Kalahari in 2008. This lion has matured into arguably Africa’s most handsome lion with his gorgeous golden locks, and he has literally swept the lionesses off their paws.
The lioness took her maternity leave deep in a Gondwana valley blanketed in colourful Fynbos, where she kept her new-borns well hidden. Typically lion cubs are not seen until they are approximately 6 weeks old, and start to move with their mother. Many of Gondwanas’ guides have tried to catch a glimpse and get a photo of the new-borns for some time, but it was Gondwana’s senior field guide Forget Ndlovu who beat them to it and struck luck on the morning of 23 November when he found the pride on a zebra kill just above the den. The cubs were in full view playing and harassing their mother and other members of the pride. This area has become affectionately known as “Pride Rock” where the pride, together with the cubs, tend to congregate for fresh air in the afternoon on display for all to see.
The lion cubs will only start eating meat at about 3 months of age. Lion cubs are usually weaned from their mother at 7 months and at about 18 months they either join their natal pride or disperse and form their own coalitions and prides.
November has proved to be baby season on this Garden Route Game Reserve, with numerous births from a variety of species taking place. Black Wildebeest and Eland seem to be multiplying by the day and probably most exciting is the birth of the Cape Mountain Zebra, an endangered species endemic to the Cape Mountain Belt. The reproduction and survival of all species on Gondwana Game Reserve is vital and reassuring. This indicates that the game has settled in well, and conditions are favorable for the species’ perpetual existence.
Gondwana welcomes all the additions to the family and we look forward to watching them mature. Not to be out done- One of the lioness sisters also seems to be expecting news soon! Watch this space!