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the Sark pride the lions around us

When we, my wife Elly and I together with our friends Marcel en Monique arrived in South Africa in September 2017 we had no idea what to expect. Yes we bought ourselves a farm in the Klaserie which is part of the Greater Kruger National Park but would we see any of the big 5?

In a couple of articles I like to introduce some of the frequently viewed animals around us.

The lions we see regularly roam around an area of roughly 10x10 km (6x6miles)

When we arrived the pride consisted 17 lions, from stories we learned that the group previously was 24 but a part of the group separated and nobody know where they disappeared, today the group is 17 with two old males, 2 young males the rest is females and cubs

Early 2019, a new cub with her older sister and brother

Unfortunately not many cubs make it to maturity, lion mothers often have to leave their cubs alone to go out hunting and we have witnessed several occasions where the cub was killed by either a jackal or a hyaena.

Lions mating is a long and exhausting process that takes days, females are taking initiative

A lioness is pregnant for 110 days, once she realises she's going into labor she will separate herself where she will give birth to 2- 6 cubs and stay away from the group for roughly 3 months

This year we had 5 cubs born, unfortunately not one made it. We witnessed one being killed by a Jackal while his mother was only 20 meters away feasting on a zebra kill.

This young male ignored warnings from his father

The young male lion here sleeping with his sisters and mother was warned a couple of times by his father that he should leave the group. Sometimes we spotted him alone in the area but he always ended up again in the group.

Rangers took him away for autopsy

The youngster ignored his father's warnings and the next morning we found him dead, a couple hundred meters from Ximuwu camp, his father strangled him....a very sad day on Ximuwu!

As life continue in the bush luckily new cubs are born regularly and funny situations are also happening continuously, this young cub is not shy to dive into the feasting party of her pride.

This year we witnessed a new split-of in the pride, 2 of the young males and 3 of their sisters decided to move a little more east most of the time. We still see them often but from the direction they appear and the direction they move back to is more east as where the rest of the group is. One of the female lionesses re-thought her decision one day and thought she could re-connect with her sisters, this was a bad idea. One evening we were having dinner and the silence of the bush was disturbed by this immense noice. We first thought the lions had a kill but this kept lasting. We decided to have a look and the poor lioness stand in front of our hanger surrounded by her 4 sisters from the other group and they were fighting. It was awful to see how this poor animal had no chance and as things under these circumstances always get worse, hyena's started to show up hoping for a free diner. We decided to do what we are not allowed to do at all, interfere in nature, we drove slowly towards the lions in the hope to stop this battle (we still had the fresh memory of losing the young male in our minds) and luckily it worked. The 4 lionesses backed of, leaving the heavily wounded lioness alone. But we had still the problem of the hyena's so we made some sort of shield with our cars to protect the poor animal. After an hour she recovered slightly and she fled into the bush. Next morning we had blood traces around the hanger everywhere up to 1,5 meters high.

Young cubs drinking of her mums breast

During daytime lions are moving hardly, especially when it's hot. The mature lions are sleeping and their cubs are playing, drinking and sleeping as well. As they are born without teeth they drink up to 6 months before they start eating meat. After two years the cubs don't need mums attention anymore.

The lionesses took down a wildebeest

Most hunting is done by the lionesses but when they are successful the males do not need any invitation to join in, not seldom they drive off the females and cubs to start eating first and the leftovers are for them.

Nothing beat the sound of the bush, especially lions roaring. Usually they start late afternoon when suns sets, it does not take long mostly until their call is being answered from miles away and it gets closer every 15 minutes.

On the move

Footnote, Lions have a hard life. Usually their life expectancy is roughly 10 years. the last 100 years the population have decimated by human interference. Hunting and loss of habitat being the main cause of the problem. Today 20 thousand lions are still alive.

I hope you enjoyed this first article about the animals on Ximuwu, if you have any input negative or positive please let me know.

Edited by Patrick Suverein on 26-10-2020

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patrick suverein
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