Freedom At Last - The Akeru White Lion Pride Are Reunited!

Freedom At Last - The Akeru White Lion Pride Are Reunited!

Posted by Connor Whelan on 8th Mar 2017

We have received the news we have all been waiting for here at The Great Projects all the way from South Africa! The Akeru Pride of lions on the White Lion Conservation Project are finally free to roam about their territory as one happy lion family! Let’s let the in country team take it from here!

Freedom at last - Letaba, Regeus, Khanyisa and Khanyesi!

The lead up to pride integration was incredibly intense and exciting with the release of Letaba and then Regeus to integrate with Khanyisa and Khanyesi - the Akeru Pride will once again roam wild at Mbube!

Dorothee Sowa, our very dedicated Volunteer Program Manager, describes the unforgettable scene after Regeus was released to join up with his brother, Letaba: “They greeted each other with such an affectionate head-rubbing that we could almost feel it on our own heads. Flopping down and rolling over each other, like two little cubs. They were so happy to be back together again. What love and affection they showed! The two Akeru males finally free again, moved off, and started to patrol their new territory to explore the area as a coalition. Inseparable, walking shoulder to shoulder. Totally in sync.”

With huge anticipation the team, including Dr Harry Wels (Vrije University, Amsterdam), followed them as the two males patrolled their new territory in the direction of where they expected to locate the lionesses. But the two males walked past the thicket where the lionesses were hiding, apparently unaware of their presence – or perhaps deliberately making a show of not intimidating them - and continued on their stately royal patrol. Our monitoring team was breathless as the first encounter was yet to take place.

The monitoring team headed back to camp, and just shortly after arriving back at the Mbube Volunteer House were amazed to find both males walking slowly past the outside of the camp… And lay down completely content, gazing across the territory, free and wild again.

The weeks that followed, were incredibly exciting with the first encounters between the male lions and lionesses being pretty intense, with lots of growling, baring of teeth, mock-charging, and even paw swatting, as the four lions worked out the dominance hierarchy. Letaba has now established himself as the alpha male, with dominance over Regeus and the both lionesses, as is typical in lion prides. With the dominance established, each day the bonds become stronger within the pride, as can be seen by the accompanying photo of the integrated pride.

White Lion Pride

Another successful lion reintroduction by the White Lion Conservation Project team, with the Volunteer Team playing a critical role in monitoring and recording the daily progress and evolution of the pride dynamics, as part of a 15 year on-going scientific research study led by lion ecologist Jason Turner (MSc Wildlife Management).

Fingers crossed that this is the first of many pieces of good news that we receive from the team in South Africa, but we will let you know of any further updates as soon as they come in!


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