Media Release: Addo celebrates first lion cubs
02 December 2005
Addo Elephant National Park is celebrating the successful birth of lion cubs, now about 4 months old.
"These three cubs are the first cubs born in Addo that have survived the first few difficult months of life in the park", said Park Manager, Lucius Moolman.
Moolman continued that initial observations by researchers have indicated that the cubs may be one male and two females.
Although both lionesses in the park have produced cubs since their introduction, these previous litters have not survived, most probably due to infanticide by male lions. It is well known that male lions will kill cubs they have not fathered in order to bring the lioness back into oestrus, providing an opportunity for them to further their own genes.
Lions were first introduced to the park in 2003 both to restore the natural balance in the ecosystem of the national park and to comply with South African National Parks' policy of reintroducing fauna which would have historically occurred in the area.
The four male and two female lions initially introduced have adapted well in the park, preying mainly on kudu, eland, warthog and buffalo.
The ratio of males to females was specifically chosen to limit the initial growth of the lion population in Addo. A lion population can expand rapidly, with the lionessâ gestation period being only 110 days.
Important research on prey and habitat selection of both lions and spotted hyena (the latter introduced in 2003 and 2004) has taken place since their introduction to ensure that the ecology of these major predators in the thicket biome is properly understood.
The survival of these cubs also reflects changes in the social organization of the Addo lion pride. After release, the six lions displayed little organization, ranging over most of the main game area. Over the past year, a dominant pair of males has emerged, and occupied the central area of the park, with a less subordinate male pair patrolling the edges. Recent sightings of the cubs playing unaffected around the most dominant male lion in the park confirm suspicions that he is the father of this first surviving litter.
Moolman said: "Once the cubs reach independence, we will translocate them to other areas of the Addo Elephant National Park to form a new pride nucleus".
Future plans include the introduction of cheetah and wild dog to the Darlington Dam area, the north-western area of the Addo Elephant National Park.
South African National Parks
Social Ecologist / Media Liaison
Tel: 042 233 0556 / 083 650 8649
Tel: 042 233 0556 / 082 905 4652