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Global White Lion Trust - August 2012 News Bulletin
(by Lianne Steenkamp)
Unfortunately we’ve got very sad news...
One tawny male who was lagging behind when the pride went to drink at the dam yesterday and only later joining up with the pride, is no longer alive.. Sadly, he died this morning.
This morning we only found 5 lions at the Pan, they hadn’t moved away. The pale female was calling continuously and so was the one young male that was with the pride. He eventually walked towards the mopani ridge, sniffed at something, and then we noticed it was the second male lying there, hidden behind a bush. When we drove a bit closer to have a look at him we noticed he was very sick, breathing heavily and not responding to any calls or movements of the lions at all. Both the female and the young male walked up to him several times, pushing him and playing a bit, seemingly to try and get him to stand up – but he barely reacted. The pride went to rest not far from him and after a while mom and son stopped calling for him, everyone went to sleep..
(by Lianne Steenkamp)
The white pride has been in the Timbavati for the last six days, during which they've been on three different kills; first 2 baby buffalo kills, then a small zebra kill, and then they were lucky to bump into a dead buffalo of which they fed for the last two days.
We're giving them a break today so I'm not sure where they are at the moment.. Tomorrow we'll be following up again.
The cubs have grown tremendously! The males are starting to grow manes and are almost the size of their mothers already! The white females look like little lionesses, their coats have lost all fluffiness – they look gorgeous.
After a long absence with only brief glimpses of the white lions on Ntsiri, they have been seen again.
The first sighting was on the 18 November when the two white sisters and the young tawny male were seen on the new road at the top of the airstrip, where they lay next to the road all morning before wondering off towards 22 Crossing.
The next day they were seen south at Kings Camp and some how split up, with one of the females coming back to Ntsiri and killing a young sub adult buffalo on Devastation Alley.
No sightings of the young tawny male or the white sister have been reported in a week.
The White Lions killed one of our poor Wildebeest on North Bank Road opposite unit 1.
Members were lucky enough to enjoy an exciting viewing of them chasing 15+ hyena off the kill.
They have since moved south onto the Timbavati.
The White lions were seen on a kudu kill on Ntsiri on South River Drive near the Western Boundary.
The lions were in thick bush and the visual of them consisted mostly of ears and tails twitching and the occasional paw in the air. Every now and then, they would taunt us by standing or sitting up.
From there the lions moved back onto Klaserie.
It's been a real tough mission looking for our lions in the rough, rocky mountainous terrain on both sides of the Klaserie River. As most of you will know, the 'white pride' has been spending the majority of the last four months in the northern section of the Klaserie PNR along the river.
Most of the days we track and search until dark, with no result. But yesterday we had a bit of luck again..
We found them close to a dam, from where they started to stalk giraffe in the early morning. After a while they gave up and seemed to settle for the day. A little later, at around 9am, they got up again and walked closer to a herd of impalas as the rutting of the males got their attention. Although they had recently fed they seemed very keen on hunting and soon they were in stalking mode again.
Then two rutting impalas almost ran straight into them. One of the lionesses just watched them as if confused that they were coming towards her and one of the white youngsters did a half-hearted attempt to catch one, but failed.
Just as they were about to settle in at 11am, they watched some vultures flying low and landing nearby, and they all got up again and suddenly rushed off.
We lost them in the thick bush but luckily we managed to relocate and once we drove closer we suddenly noticed one of the white ones up high in a marula tree, feeding on a leopard's impala kill!
As cubs they often climbed in trees and finally these climbing sessions paid off.. Unlike the lionesses (the big one, Matimba as we call her, didn't even try, the other one barely made it to the first fork but just managed to pull a piece of the carcass down with her..) the youngsters easily managed to climb up in the tree and each one had a feeding session, with the young male being up there for the most part and while he was feeding he was stared at by some giraffes close by..
One white lion even ran towards the giraffes, as if to say; Beat it or I'll catch you.. And the giraffes didn't know how quickly to get out of there..
The getting down part was a bit more tricky and they looked rather pathetic in their clumsiness to get back down to the ground..
But their hard work paid off, the youngsters were content.. They all finally settled down at 2pm.
... And then we are told by some that lions 'sleep' throughout the day..
Into Nature Productions
As you know the white lions have been spending the last 2,5 months in the northern section of the Klaserie. Besides one farm in Klaserie, they had never been on any of these other properties before, but since February they've been moving up and down along the flowing Klaserie River. This area is known to have sporadic movements of lions with no resident pride or coalition, and has an abundance of general game.
Two days ago they were found on an adult elephant carcass (which, due to obvious wounds, most likely died after a fight with another bull). They are in excellent condition and all five of them are still together.
The white lions are officially no longer cubs but sub-adults as they have now reached the age of two years (born around end April/beginning May 2009).
We're not sure whether the lionesses already came back into oestrus and whether they've been mating while they went missing for several weeks in Feb/March, but the females show no signs of lactation yet and they haven't yet been seen with any new male lions. They still don't roar and keep a low profile. What is amazing is that we have followed their tracks through the flowing river several times, indicating that nowadays they swim across water of about 1 to 1,5 metres deep..
It will be interesting to see all the changes that this pride will go through and as we've got four months of filming left, we are hoping to document some of these changes as the pride's dynamics will undoubtedly change over the next few months.
After the wonderful sightings we had in January of the white lions, they moved into klaserie where they where on a giraffe kill.
They were not seen for a further 3 weeks after which Lianne found them at Nyari Dam where they were laying up for the day on the 9 February. After this, they moved off Ntsiri again.
Unit 9 found them on the 23 February 2011 at No 2 pump. They have not been seen since then and again are suspected to have moved off Ntsiri for a brief period.
The White Lions were seen on the Plains in front of Homestead on the 11/01/2011, along with a white rhino.
The lions have grown and are promising to be strong lionesses which will stand them in good stead when hunting and defending themselves.
One of the white lions has a gore injury to the right hip which appears to be superficial and not a hinderance at all.
Members watched them attempt to catch impala on the plains after which they moved into the river below Homestead.
On the 13/01/2011, Lianne, who is filming them, tracked them from the Plains to Umfuleni Road where she found them resting for the day. They have sinced moved into Rietvlei.