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Lion genes and the strengthening of the lion population

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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby SAF » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:32 am

Thanks Ifubesi

With regard to a census, does it include the Timbavati, Greater Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands as they all from part of KNP?

With regard to lion prides, I feel there are far fewer big prides than few years ago.
Prides of over 10 or more are not as common as before, I can only think of a few.The mega pride of the S100 more than 30, but when they split up there are about 15 or so.The Nsemani pride 17.The Tshokwane pride of +-15.The croc bridge pride 12.
There was the Gomondwane pride of 20+ , but looks like they have split up and havnt heard of a pride of more than 10 in the Gomondwane area recently.

Lets try to start something interesting here
Let's post a picture of lion prides of 5 or more and a description of where and when it was taken.
This might help us establish the different prides and their movement?

Anyone up for this?
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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:39 am

Just for interest sake. Leopards are now far more commonly seen than back in the days when lion numbers were much higher.
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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby SAF » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:48 am

We always talk about leopard sightings of recent.Looks like they are no longer shy and are probably use to the cars and people.That's our only conclusion :)
We have had great sightings of leopards.Most been 8 in 1 day :dance:
We are thankful to have been blessed with so many memorable leopard sightings in the last few years

Back to the lions, anyone with the latest on the TB situation?
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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby cheetah2111 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:03 pm

Hi SAF :D

It could be that there is now an increase in leopards in the because of the decrease in lions :hmz: it could also be that they act more leopardy and elusive because of the decrease in lion threat :hmz:

The Satara region still boasts a few large prides 8) The Mazithi pride, S100 pride, Muvumbye pride, and Sweni pride all number at least 15. And based on people's pictures of facebook, there is a verh large pride by Redrocks near Bataleur, and a huge pride hanging out between Boyela waterhole and Babalala. Perhaps there are more impressive prides up North, I just don't know :)

But I am having a guess that these smaller lion prides are a phenomenon of the South :hmz:
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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby cheetah2111 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:11 pm

smaller lion prides in the South may also explain the success and growth of big wild dog packs down South 8)
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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby Bush Baptist » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:53 pm

Very interesting topic :thumbs_up:

Lions are the top predator in wild Africa. Their numbers are usually governed by availability of prey, and their 'competition' is governed by their presence, or lack thereof.

Over the last 10 years or so, I have been seeing a lot less prey animals on the south of Kruger, particularly south of the Sabie river, but an increase in leopard and wild dog sightings. It is quite possible that the number of lions has dwindled there.

I was recently in a reserve in a neighbouring country and was told that sightings of other predators were rare, because of the large numbers of lions.

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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby Ifubesi » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:34 pm

I could be wrong but I don't think leopard numbers have really increased. They are probably only getting less shy of vehicles due to the higher tourist volumes in the last decade or so. As far as I know their numbers have remained at around 1,000 for a long time now.

Wild Dog numbers have actually gone down significantly in the last decade. There are only around 120 left in the whole of Kruger. So if you see the large Orpen pack you are witnessing around 20% of the total population! The main reasons for this seems to be competition with lions as well as the last decade-long wet cycle which seems to have had a negative impact on their hunting success.

As far as I know the 1,700 number for lions does not include the bordering reserves. From what I can gather the lion population in especially Sabi-Sands are very high and have resulted in a struggle for survival by the few wild dog and cheetah that are still found there. It has also resulted in a lot of lion-on-lion conflict, with some expectionally aggressive males (such as the legendary Mapogos) having killed dozens of other lions during their lifetime. Whether these high lion densities in the private reserves is completely natural or partly due to factors such as the proliferation of artificial water-provisioning to prey species, is a topic for another day.
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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:45 pm

An increase in lion numbers will definitely cause a decrease in leopard numbers as they compete with each other. A lion won't hesitate for a second to make short work of a leopard in order to eliminate competition.

A leopard being a leopard, I doubt that they are seen more because they are more used to visitors. They are secretive animals with one of the best camouflage packages out there on which they rely heavily on in order to survive. Leopards don't want to be seen.

No way a leopard would walk out in full view if there is a lion near.

I doubt that their numbers have boomed over the last 2 or 3 decades. But it has definitely gone up, no doubt. 20, 30 years ago a leopard sighting was really a highlight of a trip, if you were that lucky to see one. Now you see one almost every single trip if not multiple sightings per trip.

I don't think any census on leopard numbers would ever be accurate. They are just too secretive.
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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby cheetah2111 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:33 pm

Ifubesi are we certain wild dog numbers are that low? :hmz:

The Orpen pack is 30 strong now as I saw in November, add to that the Timbavati pack that has come over now. I saw them on the very same day I saw the Orpen pack :D

A pack of 17 or so wild dogsWest of Skuks in October. A completely different pack of 14 East of Nkuhlu.
The Berg en Dal pack I havn't seen myself, but they are a large pack, as is the Pkop pack! I think there is one more pack in the South to make it five packs. Now it might be true that wild dog numbers have decreased :hmz: But these are large packs are they not? :hmz: If you compare 5 packs in the South, to 2 packs in Central - it seems wild dogs are higher in number in the South ... could that be a linking back to our theory of less lions in the south?

Bush Baptist wrote:Over the last 10 years or so, I have been seeing a lot less prey animals on the south of Kruger, particularly south of the Sabie river, but an increase in leopard and wild dog sightings. It is quite possible that the number of lions has dwindled there.

I have seen 5 wildebees sightings in my last 4 Kruger trips to the South :shock: Shocking! :shock:
Not a great number of zebra to speak of, and buffalo sightings are rare :?
It would make sense to me that low number in willies, zebs and buffs would mean the lions trek elsewhere :thumbs_up:

I tend to agree with WTM on the leopard thing :thumbs_up:
Last edited by cheetah2111 on Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:52 pm

You've had a super wild dog year, Cheetah! I haven't been lucky for 6 or 7 years now in finding them. But from what you are saying, it seems that the dog population is certainly exceeding previous census number as I know that at least one pack also operates in the far north. So definitely some evidence here to proof a rise in numbers.

I am afraid we have gone off the original topic by quite some extend. Apologies.
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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby Ifubesi » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:59 pm

Hi Cheetah. The 120 figure for Wild Dogs was determined by the last study made public by the Endangered Wildlife Trust a year or so ago. It would be very informative if someone involved in these studies could tell us if there have been a significant increase since then?

There are definitely less lions in the south. Central Kruger is definitely the optimal lion country (and it has always been so) due to high prey densities. Your comment on low wildebeest numbers in the south makes sense as they prefer a more open habitat, so in the south you will only find them in high numbers on the basalt between Lower-Sabie and Croc bridge.

Wild Dog evolved to thrive in areas with lower predator and prey densities (such as miombo woodlands in Zambia/Mozambique) which explains their habits of moving vast distances in search of food. Therefore I think the central and southern parts of Kruger historically were not optimal habitats for Wild Dog, as their would always have been relatively large lion populations present (before the arrival of man). In historical Kruger, the North was probably the best place for Wild Dog due to the much drier and less nutritious vegetation of the Mopane-veld. When the old park management opened artificial water holes, it attracted large amounts of animals such as zebra which also lead to the increase of lions. This problems is now being fixed by current management through the closure of many artificial water holes and will hopefully also help wild dog numbers to increase.

Regarding leopards again: You may be correct Wildtuinman. I have no stats to prove/disprove you but it seems you are extremely lucky in the amount of leopards you see on your Kruger trips :D .

Sorry SAF about our straying off topic, but when I start talking about these subjects I can't stop :D .
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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby cheetah2111 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:12 pm

But all these comments are related to the topic :D
We are in search of clues that there is a lion decrease in the south;
1.possibly an increase in leopard sightings, and possibly less elusive behavior
2. possibly large wild dog packs
3. possibly less of lion's preferred prey (wildebeest, zebra, buffalo)
4. large hyena clans making stiff competition

Ifubesi, in October, I often found the jeep of the wild dog researchers. they had a tracking device, and were driving around in the South. After the Skukuza pack sighting on the H11 Paul Kruger road, they told us they had 3 packs the day before. :thumbs_up:
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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby NetEk » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:28 pm

I have found it depends on the time off year you go as well. My predator sights are not in summer when the grass is long and they can be right there without you seeing them but in winter you see them more easily. So if Mr X goes to KNP every Jun holidays and MR Z in December that might be the reason for sightings being different.

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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby Scipio » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:32 pm

In 2012 I have seen and photographed the following prides/packs and clans that were fairly large.

Mega Pride- 30odd
Ntsemani Pride - 28 with cubs
Tshokwane pride - 22 with cubs
Mankavi/Letaba - 27 with cubs
Mahonie loop - 16 until X-mas, a few newborns arrived(4 males in this pride)
Babalala pride - 22

this is only what I counted, so figures might be different to others.

Wild dog:

Skukuza- 28
Pretoriuskop only 5 adults with cubs
Shingwedzi - 7(Fantastic condition)
Orpen - only 14 seen in road, could be more

Hyena:
One very large clan on the S28, counting 30+

Leopards, well, lets just say these animals just came out of the woodwork with 3 to 4 sightings a day possible.

White lion sightings? Only 1 in Kruger in the past 3 years, but a good one in Timbivati, 6 km's from Orpen gate a few months ago.

Interesting topic indeed.

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Re: LIONS OF KRUGER

Unread postby Ifubesi » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:34 pm

Cheetah, maybe those are the only 3 packs in the south that they keep on finding everyday :lol: . When you see those researchers again, please ask them to give us some info on this forum? It would be great if the Wild Dogs have increased significantly in the last year or so.

Back to the lions, anyone with the latest on the TB situation?


Back to SAF's question about the TB: Last time I heard from Paul Funston he said that it seems as though the TB didn't have such a devastating effect on the lion population as initially feared. It is still a worry however, as their are still no cure and it has spread throughout the park now from south all the way up to Pafuri.
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