New Blood Lions & Wild Dogs at SA World Heritage Site
A coalition of three male lions was collared and released from their holding boma into the uMkhuze section of the South Africa's first world heritage site, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, late on the 18th of October 2016.
The lions, from the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve are genetically distinct from the pride of 16 lions presently residing in iSimangaliso, all of which are from the same blood line. The lions remained in the boma for several weeks before being released to acquaint themselves with the existing pride.
This introduction boosts the establishment of a viable population in iSimangaliso after the last lion was shot by conservationists some 47 years ago for going “rogue” in what was then an unfenced park. The first lion introductions back to iSimangaliso took place in December 2013 and 2014 respectively.
The first family of four lions - translocated from Tembe Elephant Park - were released in December 2013 and comprised an adult female and three sub-adult offspring. Their arrival catapulted iSimangaliso to ‘Big 7' status. This was followed by the coalition of two males (brothers) and three females during the course of 2014. In order to slow down the breeding rate of the lions, the females underwent partial hysterectomies which is the removal of one horn of the uterus. Lions breed prolifically and this action should halve the number of litters obviating the need for translocations to other parks in the short-term. Since December 2013, three sets of cubs have swelled the ranks.
iSimangaliso now generates some 7% of the province's tourism GDP and over 7 000 direct permanent tourism jobs.
All iSimangaliso's adult lions are fitted with satellite collars to monitor their movements for biological and safety reasons. They are tracked daily by Park staff supported by Wildlife Act volunteers with the information feeding into Park management.
One of the most exciting sightings in the uMkhuze section of iSimangaliso Wetland Park is that of the endangered wild dog (or African Painted Dog). With an estimated 1400 fully grown adult dogs left globally, the two packs that have been established in iSimangaliso's uMkhuze form a vital part of South Africa's metapopulation. A new litter of 14 healthy pups has been spotted and photographed in the last few days.