Three lion cubs orphaned last year when their mother died are closer to being released into the wild.
The Addo Elephant National Park’s nine month-old cubs have been moved to a 200 hectare camp where they can start learning to hunt.
They rose to fame in December 2014 when their mother, Gina, died. The male and two female cubs were placed into a holding boma in the park’s main game viewing area. Estimated to be weighing about 80kg each, Shireen, Lara and Robin are now in the Kuzuko contractual area in the north of the park about 100kms away by road.
Addo’s Conservation Manager, John Adendorff, says they will be closely monitored by Kuzuko management on a daily basis as it may be necessary to supplement their diet until such time that they are able to hunt on their own. “It is estimated that they could spend between one and two years in the camp – before being released into the larger Kuzuko section,” Adendorff says.
The trio became a national news item in December when the park made a desperate plea for visitors to report any sightings of them after Gina died of a suspected snake bite and left the cubs alone. They were last seen and photographed by a park guest in mid-December, looking exceptionally thin and withered but then remained out of sight and could not be found.
Appeals were made to visitors to report any sightings to the Park’s conservation staff. Photos posted on social media garnered widespread interest and concern. Park staff started to give up of finding them when a guide alerted rangers that he may have spotted them in early January. Park staff searched the area and found the three severely malnourished and lethargic cubs.
They were darted and placed in the boma and spent the past four months being regularly fed and cared for.
(edited by St Francis Chronicle)
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