I am unaware of any farms in South Africa where a lion has "been raised naturally in an environment where it had to take care of itself for his whole life and live a normal life fighting with other lions and so on."
All of the game farms offering Big Five species that I visited over the many years I travelled to South Africa kept their lions in smaller enclosures with electric fences and regularly fed them donkeys and horses. Their antelopes, buffaloes and zebras were hunted elsewhere on their properties. They may have released a lion or two into the larger areas, but it was seldom long before someone posed for a "hero photo" with them.
I'm well aware that there is no such thing as a "game-proof" fence. Years ago, I spooked a nyala bull and watched it slam into and slide under a high fence without slowing down on Trevor Shaw's place in Natal while I was collecting birds for the SCI wildlife museum in Tucson. I tried to lift the fence at that spot and couldn't.
Sure, wild lions also sometimes escape the Kruger and Kalahari Gemsbok parks, and a few also walk across the Limpopo into RSA from Botswana when the river is dry, but aren't the majority of these taken by locals within a few days after they enter your country?
Not one of the game farmers I know would tolerate for long any lion that entered his farm and began eating his trophy buffalo, kudu, nyala, gemsbok and other big-ticket antelope. If a foreign trophy hunter was available on short notice and willing to pay the price the farmer thought he could get, fine.
If not, that lion soon would be removed -- one way or another.
I must admit I'm biased because of what I witnessed before the recent passage of your country's new rules for lion hunting. Where would you suggest I send a friend who wanted to hunt a lion such as you describe?
You are right that there are not many places and any that you might know off that have true lion walking around like an impala for example on a game farm. Like I said the private reserves that border the Kruger park would be your no.1 destination to send someone to shoot a good lion in RSA. But they are very limited.
Then there are some big private reserves like Mabula for example who has a seperate enclosure (very large) with lion that go on with their normal routine as they please but with cheap game walking around ie. kudu, impala, wildebeest and so on no fancy stuff like buffalo and sable.
And I think in the North eastern part of Limpopo the Danish trust as a considerable amount of land from Mussina east towards the Kruger park and with a size of land like that you would get wild lion as well. I'm not 100% sure how that is setup but Limpopo Travel of Diana uses the areas. So even if it is limited it can be found in RSA.
The knowledge and questions expressed on here about South African Lion Hunting seems to confirm my worst fears - that there are no real wild lions left in SA outside of National Parks! The discussion on what makes a lion wild, cannot be dictated by us in any way...
IMO, a wild lion is one that lives in the wild, un-influenced by human management and who truly rules his domain and lives by the rules and conditions of his natural environment and in interaction with natural members/factors of the eco-system, including unknown members of the same species. A wild lion, should experience the natural life cycle of a lion from being a cub within a pride, being a young adult within a pride, moving away from a pride into a nomadic existence among various prides, fighting amongst nomads and pride males, earning his own pride, adding his genes into the population, surrendering his pride to the new generation and finally living briefly the life of a retired king... all this within a natural habitat, consisting natural prey and conditions as experienced by that particular population of lions for many many years.
There are very few of these 'wild lion' populations left in Africa today. You will find that even some National Parks do not have them - in fact, they are more common in hunting concessions outside National Parks and another reason why sustainable and ethical hunting has a very important role in the future of wildlife and wilderness. Some parks have influenced the natural balance of territories so much that some species, such as lions, do not experience natural cycles anymore and that is when we have outbreaks of diseases and mutations through in-breeding and un-natural circumstances.
I am very passionate about wildlife and wilderness habitats and especially key-species to a habitat. For most areas that I have been lucky to experience in Tanzania, the lion is in most cases, a natural resident and symbol of the remoteness and wildness of the area. Many places have lost this symbol already, but many places are still truly ruled by natures' king - every local will confide that although they fear the lion - their land would be a lesser place without him. Even the Sukuma Herdsman (who desires to kill every lion who would endanger his herd of cattle), realizes that his culture would have a big emptiness without the presence of the lion. The Maasai already accept the loss of a key component in their head-strong culture - their warrior youth no longer experience the wildlife battles that made them a feared people throughout the lands. Losing the WILD LION will be a loss to nature and mankind that I do not want to imagine...
Having said that, the breeding programs in SA are doing a great deal of good for the species as a whole, by putting more lions into areas and just simply having more of the species available... but let us not undermine the true king of Africa, by subsidizing him with man-made solutions. There is a place for our management programs and solutions, but let us protect the foundations of this great species and do everything we can to support and protect the few populations of wild lions left in Africa - we can only learn from their natural existence, how to best manage them in our breeding and captive or controlled/monitored programs. I hope i am getting through to you...
Just some of my views on the African Lion. To those potential lion hunters out there;
ask yourself many questions before you venture to pursue your lion desires - I will leave it at that to avoid getting controversial. I have nothing against hunting lion or lion hunters and have taken one myself as well as successfully guided many hunters to the awesome animal - but on a few occasions, I expected the quarry to be given a lot more respect than he received before having to fall to a modern human hunter. These are wild lions i am talking about... hunted the right way, in their natural environment.
"Having said that, the breeding programs in SA are doing a great deal of good for the species as a whole, by putting more lions into areas and just simply having more of the species available... but let us not undermine the true king of Africa, by subsidising him with man-made solutions. There is a place for our management programs and solutions, but let us protect the foundations of this great species and do everything we can to support and protect the few populations of wild lions left in Africa - we can only learn from their natural existence, how to best manage them in our breeding and captive or controlled/monitored programs. I hope i am getting through to you... Just some of my views on the African Lion. To those potential lion hunters out there;
ask yourself many questions before you venture to pursue your lion desires - I will leave it at that to avoid getting controversial. I have nothing against hunting lion or lion hunters and have taken one myself as well as successfully guided many hunters to the awesome animal - but on a few occassions, I expected the quarry to be given a lot more respect than he received before having to fall to a modern human hunter. These are wild lions i am talking about... hunted the right way, in their natural environment."
Well said, Shallom! Lions truly are awesome animals and they deserve our respect. I'll also add that it is my hope that they will always be with us so that the hunters who follow us may hunt them responsibly under the conditions we have experienced.
Originally Posted by Frederik
I am unaware of the Danish trust near Kruger, but I did visit Mala Mala and other places along the western boundary of the park in the late 1980s. We followed several lion prides on nighttime game drives. These were my first experiences with lions. Looking back, I don't think I would call those animals truly "wild." Are hunts still being conducted there? I had been told the lodges along the Sabi Sand now only offered photo "safaris."
The last I heard (and I admit my information is way out of date), the places along Kruger that still offered hunts for lion were being criticized for allegedly luring game out of the park. I remember seeing a television program on one of my trips to your country that purported to show a pair of lion cubs grieving for their mother who supposedly was shot when she left the park to feed on an outfitter's bait.
Also, I found Mabula on Google, and learned it is 12,000 hectares. That works out to about 6 by 7 miles, which is not large at all by our standards here in Arizona and elsewhere in the American West. Studies I've seen indicate our mountain lions require at least 100 square miles of "wilderness" per each male. Has anyone determined how much habitat a wild pride of African lions might require to be self-sustaining?
Ryan.............well put and I absolutely agree.
One thing that I think should be noted on the RSA lion hunting is that the majority of it has to be put and take. As Bill just pointed out, even many of the 'big' fenced operations just are not that big in the great scheme of things, especially when talking about lions and the space they need as a pride and the game they would need to kill to feed the pride and exist as an indiginous 'breeding' pride.
If we were to say that it is acceptable to take a lion in a huge fenced preserve.....as long as it was born and raised, grew to breeding age and eventually was past breeding age and harvested. Well that takes a big area to begin with and very few lions would be available for harvest off of these estates, perhaps one every few years.
Well that simply is not the case.
I know there are a lot of guys that are OK with taking a lion under these circumstances and that is up to the individual. But sadly this sort of things is indicative of just how 'wild' a place is............the apex predators always require a lot of relatively remote country to survive.
I guess it is just an example of how things change with time. On this side of the pond the thought of hunting cougar, black bear, grizzly or Alaska brown bears behind high fence on a private estate would never be acceptable to me or most hunters for that matter. Why is it being so freely accepted by many for lion?
There are obviously many facets to this subject and someone could easily turn out a large volume on it, but the bottom line is that some creatures need big wild spaces to live and breed..........our goal should be to preserve these spaces, the creatures that inhabit them and make these places of value to the local people, not settle for breeding programs on private estates.
Hey, but that is just my opinion and I could be wrong.:)
Mr. Quimby & Skyline... your acceptance of the lion as a special species deserving of respect and its' freedom to live wild as it has always done, is the first step to inspiration for all the people who are working hard to protect the wild lion territories around Africa.
Our hope is to succeed for as long as possible, but it is not easy and cannot be achieved without awareness, a collaborative effort, many sacrifices and serious funding. Hunting companies attain this through selling their hunts at a premium and some individuals make a lot of personal sacrifice in dedicating their time for a number of years in fighting the field battles against poaching and encroachment, as well as policy and administrative battles with authorities and governments. It is tough work...
But the motivation comes from people like you who acknowledge and respect the lion, people in the field who fight on its' behalf, locals whose eyes widen at the stories of the lion, children who cling to their elders at the sound of one roaring, from the paw prints on the ground, the chorus of roars in the african night and from the sight of a wild lion staring at you with eyes unmatched for depth... We all hope to protect this species and his domains for as long as possible and a lot is being done - but a lot more needs to be done still. Everyone can play their part by simply learning more about the wild lion and sharing that knowledge with people around you - the lion needs allies, but well informed allies, with the right kind of knowledge. Not the kind of allies who want him saved behind bars in a zoo. The kind of allies that respect the lion on HIS terms and for HIS best interests.
"There are obviously many facets to this subject and someone could easily turn out a large volume on it, but the bottom line is that some creatures need big wild spaces to live and breed..........our goal should be to preserve these spaces, the creatures that inhabit them and make these places of value to the local people, not settle for breeding programs on private estates."
"But the motivation comes from people like you who acknowledge and respect the lion, people in the field who fight on its' behalf, locals whose eyes widen at the stories of the lion, children who cling to their elders at the sound of one roaring, from the paw prints on the ground, the chorus of roars in the african night and from the sight of a wild lion staring at you with eyes unmatched for depth... We all hope to protect this species and his domains for as long as possible and a lot is being done - but a lot more needs to be done still. Everyone can play their part by simply learning more about the wild lion and sharing that knowledge with people around you - the lion needs allies, but well informed allies, with the right kind of knowledge. Not the kind of allies who want him saved behind bars in a zoo. The kind of allies that respect the lion on HIS terms and for HIS best interests."
Kelly and Ryan .... right on!
I looked it up online as I did not know the answer myself, here is what I found; a territory for a pride of Lions consisting of 2 to 3 males and up to 12 females may include a 100 square miles (259 square kilometers) of grasslands or open woodlands...
Originally Posted by billrquimby
This is a great and valuable discussion! While reading this thread, I find myself being very proud of AH members who are so articulate and willing to debate this subject in such a thoughtful manner and beyond anything else are so clearly conservation oriented.
with regards to lion territory, it varies from habitat to habitat... areas with scattered prey animals tend to dictate larger lion territories (in some cases up to 250 square kilometers) and areas with concentrated prey animals allow for smaller territories (sometimes as small as 25 sq kms).
Take an example of the Kilombero Valley in Tanzania where there is an abundance and high concentration of Puku Antelope - the lions here are also densely populated and have bigger bodies, manes and skulls ( one of the few areas also where territories actually overlap and is tolerated). Whereas in areas like Tsavo, where prey animals are scattered & conditions are arid, lions roam much larger areas and have smaller features.
On average though, prides tend to occupy territories of approx. 50 square kilometers.
If my math is correct, 50 square kilometers works out to 19.3 square miles, which is less than four miles by five miles. I am amazed that such a small area could provide the prey animals needed to sustain a group of such large carnivores indefinitely. Africa truly is unique.
Incidentally, there also was a good population of puku near where I shot my lion in Zambia 16 years ago.
So if the info is correct on on territory size then it is possible for lions to live naturally on some of the big farms in South Africa. And most of the time game is well stocked on these places.
Indeed, it works out to 7 x 7 kms and is the verage range of wild lions in consideration of the following; sufficient prey animals/distribution of water points/permanent water/ideal habitat (thickets/elevated ground/open grassland/woodland).
It does not seem like a lot of land, but with the right conditions, it is a prime territory. Remember that lions are naturally 'restful' animals and do not like to overwork themselves. Imagine that you have an area of 500 sq. kms (that IS big). You would ideally have 4-5 prides in such an area. In numbers that only acounts for 250 sq.kms but note that there will be unsuitable territory within the area and also lots of vacant area between lion territories. These are all factors in the equation.
Lions have been known to cover hundreds of kilometers, but that is not the norm. With a healthy pride and ideal territory, there is no reason for lions to travel more than they need to. Hence the fierce territorial behaviour.
Zambia is the only other place with Puku. Kilombero is said to hold 75% of the worlds puku and possibly the only stable and sustainable population. The only other population is found in Zambia. There are a few found around Lake Rukwa in Tanzania but not a significant population. Do share some photos with us sir. Cheers,
it is possible for lions to live naturally in many of the big game farms in the south, but the thing about wild lions, is that THEY choose their territories and it requires interaction between a number of prides and various nomadic youngsters to create a real balance of genes and life-cycle. Once there is a fence in place, the 'wild' aspect is immediately lost.
But yes, it is possible to have 'free-range' lions in the bigger game farms. 'Wild' lions on the other hand, can only be found in the wild. I think we all agree on this anyway.
Ryan's last post speaks for itself.
Area required for a pride is going to vary from one place to the next, depending on water, game densities, etc. In the Kilombero the lion prides have excellent habitat and thus require what I would view as fairly small home ranges compared to other eco-systems in other areas and countries.
But, having said all of that, with 'free-range' lions on a fenced estate..........you are not going to produce very many 7 year old trophy males in this sort of a situation. How many big old males are going to be available from year to year in a high-fenced operation that is say 50 km in size? Not too many...........pretty easy to do the math. And, the majority of high-fenced operations in RSA are not anywhere near that size.
The simple fact is that most RSA lion hunting will continue to be 'put and shoot'.
Don't know how to post photos here, but a photo of a puku I shot near the Kafue River in Zambia can be seen by going to www.safaripress.com and searching for "quimby" under "author." The publisher is using it to promote my newest book.
Originally Posted by Shallom
Ryan, you have summed up my thoughts exactly. Thank you.
Dang!! Wish I had more time. Posted and it vanished.
The big predators are something close to my heart.
Ryan, I want one of those big puku to.
According to "The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion", by Skinner and Chimimba (a revised Smithers), lions home ranges can be from 20-400 km2. And they tend to overlap. We have a small resident pride, whose numbers fluctuate between 3 and 16 on an area we lease the hunting rights on, (measuring 26 000 ha and bordering a park). This small pride came there 7 or 8 years ago, and have stayed there, and of course reproduce and draw other nomadics there.
On the issue of canned lions- I spoke to one of the breeders/ outfitters in SA about a year ago, enquiring if it will be viable to replace the above pride's male with one of their bred lions, as I think it will be a bad idea if his offspring takes over the pride (inbreeding.) Along with his answer, he volenteerd the info that he has taken hok-leeus (bred lions) to Zim, Zambia and Mozambique before, TO BE HUNTED.
Kelly, the puku is another animal we have a 100% success rate on, but that is nothing to highlight, considering that the toughest aspect of puku hunting with me, is picking a special trophy out of seeing over 500 puku a day! I think the shortest lenght puku we have taken is 16" and that was an old buck who was worn down. On average we take 18" puku's with a handful that have gone 20" and over. My personal one went just under 22".
that is an interesting point that you have made. I had my suspicions about lion hunting in Zambia, as lately they have been selling lion hunts there with 'GUARANTEE' on lion and to me that just cannot be done with any wild animals. It is first demeaning to hunting if you can guarantee a kill. I had a 100% success rate on lion from 1993-2004, but never guaranteed anything. Your point has made me even more curious about whats going on out there. INTERESTING. Cheers,