Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Kubasa Hlambe!

As per my promise here's an update on the White Lions. Please note that the events described occurred while I was on leave and I have put this together from what others have told me. I did manage to chat to Leanne who witnessed most of the events and kindly passed on the information.

The White Lions have been very unsettled of late with us finding them travelling great distances in no particular direction, sometimes venturing out of our traversing area for a couple of days which was becoming more and more often. A reason for the great distances they were travelling was the unsuccessful hunting attempts that passed by nightly and by the time I left on leave they were all looking gaunt, tired and pretty desperate.

While on leave I got a message that they had been found on a zebra kill, this was great news, as it would feed them all very well for a couple of days, allowing them to rebuild their strength and give them time to rest and recuperate. Well that's what one would think. It turns out that the zebra and an outside influence put in motion a series of events that was the worst thing that could possibly have happened to them.

Leaving them feeding on the Zebra one evening everybody returned the next morning to check up on their development, to their surprise, and a site that must have struck immediate fear into the finder was to find the White Lions gone and in their place were three Mahlatini Males. Immediately everyone set about trying to locate the White Lions and make sure they were all ok. It 's not the first time that the White Lions have been chased off a kill, having being dispossessed twice before by the Timbavati Males. On both those occasions the females were able to defend the cubs and all of them got away safely. It must have been a very anxious morning until they were all found safe and sound together. Unfortunately this is not where it ended as there appeared no escaping the attention of an unusually high concentration of lions in the area.

Making their way South West the White Lions were very unfortunate to run into the Timbavati Males who were on their way to the zebra kill themselves, somehow Lions can always locate a free meal. From what I've heard the Timbavati Males gave chase and splintered the White Lion Pride and very nearly caught one of the young male cubs, apparently they were right on his tail, literally. After narrowly escaping, the cubs were now split from their two mothers, who were still to be found together. They spent many an hour trying to reunite with the cubs, contact calling continuously, and looking around the area frantically. As the hours passed their desperation became more and more apparent, and their luck was not to change as they ran into the Timbavati Males once more, on this occasion both females coward to the ground in total submission while one of the males laterally presented, a dominance display, he then gave chase once more, at which the females ran for their lives becoming separated from one another in the process. Things had gone from bad to worse and one can only imagine the anxiety and fear the lionesses were now going through.

After all they had been through, and now also being separated from one another, they still went about trying to relocate their cubs, who we have learnt over the past months, have always taken top priority, no matter what! Their perseverance finally paid off with one of the mothers finding the youngsters in the vicinity of their unfortunate run in with the males. Immediately she started to head North, away from the Zebra Kill and all the Lions it was somehow attracting. This still left one female alone desperately looking for her Pride, Leanne was following her and mentioned that the lioness was visibly shaking and at one stage actually stopped for a moment, lost all bladder control and wet herself, before setting off again contact calling. Physical and mental exhaustion was making its presence felt. Sometime during the night the lone lioness caught up with her pride and they were all found together the following day, highly mobile to the North West.

During all of this the Timbavati Males dispossessed the Mahlatini Males of the Zebra, the third Pride to now feed on the carcass. With all the Male Lions in the South East it was only natural that the White Lions would travel to the North West, specially given that the Mahlatini Males who originally drove them from their territory were no longer there, home was obviously calling. The White Lions have now left our traversing area and Leanne was able to track them back to their original territory and more than likely the area of the cubs birth. I guess after what they have been through they may as well return home and hopefully reunite with the rest of the Timbavati Pride who will be able to offer them some protection.

I personally don't think we will see them in the near future, but we live in hope. The most important thing to all of us though, is that this incredibly special pride, The Kubasa Hlambe, as they are affectinately known, are safe and out of harms way. It could be presumed that being White makes them special, but I think it's also the mothers natures that have endeared them to us and how they are totally and utterly committed to their young. They have gained our respect and won over our hearts!

Piecing this together from multiple sources a measure of “broken telephone” undoubtly has crept in and the events that occurred may not be exactly recounted but it should be enough to give you the idea of what unfolded and keep you in the picture.

1 comment:

  1. I read your report with increasing trepidation! How sad that at the moment they have had to leave - but as you say it will probably be safer. What brave lionesses, it must have been heartbreaking to see the one lioness under such stress. Such utter devotion. We could surely learn a lesson.
    Thank you so much for the update.