26 Apr

The New Lions of Lapalala

It’s true that the African wilderness is never quite complete without the sound of lions roaring across the savannah.

The wild, guttural roars echoing through the valley will bring chills down the back of even the most experienced African traveller. The sound of a lion conjures both fear and wonder, taking your mind back to a time before technology when people still roamed the bush freely, and the sound of lions meant one thing: be careful! A roar is the real sound of Africa, and something that no guest will ever forget when they hear it for the first time.

Now, after many years of planning, the team at Lapalala Wilderness is so happy to hear the sounds of wild lions roaring through the Waterberg once again.

Late last year, three large Kalahari lions arrived at the reserve, and were placed in the Lapalala holding bomas. Kalahari lions are renowned for being the largest of Africa’s lions. When the crate door was opened and the male lion stood up, you could feel his powerful energy as he emerged, growling, from the darkness of the crate.

Lapalala’s first four lions arrived safely late last year and were kept in the predator bomas for a few weeks. The translocation from Khamab Kalahari Game Reserve (a 12-hour drive by vehicle) was superbly managed by Hermann, Lapalala’s biodiversity manager. One large adult male and three young adult females were each loaded separately into four crates, designed by Lapalala. The animals were fully awake for the majority of the trip. The animals are prime specimens; beautiful lions that we are all looking forward to hear roaring on the Lapalala Reserve.

The lions were released into the reserve a few weeks later, and it was magical to see Lapalala’s first pride roam free. It’s been a few months since the release, and we have had some special sightings of them already. We watched them chase a zebra and bring it down near the vehicle, and they also made a wildebeest kill not far from the lodge.

We also witnessed a very special sighting of them while we were setting up bush drinks for the evening. It was dusk and they emerged a way off, not paying us too much interest. But it did remind us that we need to be more aware of the bush than before.

We are watching the females carefully, hoping one of them will go into oestrus soon. The job of relocating lions is never quite done until the first female has cubs and the population begins to grow. This means that the animals are healthy, there’s enough food, and they are ready to build a population.

If all goes well, we will one day have various competing prides moving through the reserve, battling to achieve dominance and contributing to the regulation of this magical wilderness, as it has always been.