South Africa White Lions Make History At Reserve

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  1. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    South Africa White Lions Make History At Reserve

    Rare white lions have been released into the wild at Sanbona wildlife reserve, making the Klein Karoo wildlife reserve home to what's believed to be the only free-roaming white lions in the world.

    The reserve, in 2003, procured two white lions, one male and one female, as the basis for an ambitious project - to re-establish the first wild, self sustaining white lions since their removal from the Timbavati region in the 1970s.

    Spokesperson Veronique von Rehbinder said white lions had been isolated to breeding programmes and circuses over the past few decades and there had been few reported sightings of the rare big cats in natural environments.

    "As a result, it has been widely assumed that the recessive gene in the lions producing the unusual coloring is bordering on extinction," she said.

    The project aimed to integrate the white lion offspring with wild tawny lions so that they could be taught to hunt and survive naturally.

    "Breeding between white and tawny lions would also considerably improve the genetic integrity of the white lions, as they have been inbred on breeding farms from a very small founder population," she said.

    The project culminated in the recent release of an integrated lion pride, including two adult males and two juvenile female white lions, into 40 000 hectares of wild land with herds of potential prey species.

    Von Rehbinder said the pride was being monitored closely and that although they often separated and went their own way, they reunited regularly and were hunting and fending for themselves.

    She said white lions are not albinos as they have pigmentation which shows particularly in eye, paw pad and lip color.

    "These rare big cats are not a separate sub-species of Panthera leo, the African lion. Their condition is the result of a recessive gene and is termed leucism."

    She said cubs may be born normal tawny lions, but carry the recessive leucism gene, which may emerge in future generations if the lion is partnered correctly.

    "Unlike normal lion cubs that are spotted at birth, the coat of white cubs is almost pure white."

    Source: AllAfrica.com
  2. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    This sounds like a great deal... keeping a species off the extinct list! I really hope this project takes off & is successful. Hopefully they can acquire a few more of the white lions from other places around the world to keep a strong gene pool & make this a success! To have them able to survive in the wild & pass on their genes between the tawny lions & white lions! This should be a win win situation and another big victory for the wild animals of Africa!
    Thank god there are people who care about animals & whom are willing to sacrifice their time & efforts for them!! If there wasn't we would only have the big 4 for Dangerous Game Hunting!! They saved the Rhino & with the help of hunting groups & hunters the White Lion will come back as well as other animals staring extinction in the face!!
  3. hound_hunter

    hound_hunter AH Member

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    I would love to see this sub-species back in the wild (I guess maybe sub-species is not the correct term for the white lion, but I don't know what to classify it as). I remember back in 2005 I went to a place in South Africa where my dad was there to dart a rhino.. Weits was their last name I believe? Who were very big into breeding and bringing up the numbers of White Lions. I'm not sure what their purposes were with it as all the lions were in captivity, but they took it seriously and had a lot of space dedicated to the cause. They are different looking though, the females and cubs especially are adorable!

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  4. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    Hound Hunter.. those are some real nice photo's!! I believe that wiets is in the Free State as I was seriously contemplating bidding on a Green Rhino hunt they offered at an SCI banquet this past winter. I didn't know that they were into the lion breeding etc.... Now I really kick myself in the rear end as that would have been something really neat to have seen & experienced!!
  5. hound_hunter

    hound_hunter AH Member

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    Calhoun, My dad also purchased that hunt at an SCI auction and got a great price on it. And let me say, if you see them come up again at an auction, I would recommend the hunt. As far as the other hunting I think their trophy fees were a little high, nothing too serious though, but the rhino darting experience was worth the whole trip! Such a blast, and you have to get really close for the dart to stick in good:) The Weits are all about having a good time. This safari was more about them helping us to enjoy Africa anyway we could. They suggested us, and took days from us, to tour the diamond mine in Kimberly (I think that's where it was?) and a little bit of time in the city to see what South Africa living was like. Their place is not like a hard serious hunting camp (like most of south africa is not) although they can accomodate that if that is what you want. but it is an experience unique to Africa, especially with that Rhino darting! and I loved it. The best part of all, as you can see in the picture, it is a hunt the whole family can come along on and enjoy. We did so many random things on that trip (Saw the diamond mine, hung out in town, met some locals, went horseback riding through the bush (which was very nice in Africa! You easily sneak up on game and find them naturally go about their life at close ranges. I would like to hunt africa on horseback someday if it were ever offered, which I doubt it ever will be) Went to a game reserve, All in all it was just a good fun trip. The highlight is most definitely the quest to dart a rhino though, you will have some close calls with those massive beasts! And they have some incredible pictures at their ranch of very close encounters and a couple charges!

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    Here's a black wildebeest I took at the Weits place
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