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One small step for Simba

Just over a century ago, there were more than 200,000 wild lions living in Africa. Today, there are only about 20,000; lions are extinct in 26 African countries. Simba, the newest addition to Kaingo Game Reserve’s free roaming lion population was released from the confines of the holding boma on Tuesday 20 June 2018.

We follow Simba in this landmark step in his life.

Simba, who came from the nearby Welgevonden Game Reserve, was a necessary introduction to ensure the genetic viability of the Kaingo Game Reserve lion population.

This strapping five-year-old male was brought into the reserve about 2 weeks prior to his release to ensure that he got well acquainted with our electrical fences (to discourage him from leaving the reserve) and to slowly introduce him to our current lions, led by the enigmatic Mika.

The afternoon after his release into the boma, Deon, our Maintenance manager, heard him roar. This was rather quick, as lion in captivity are sensitive to being moved and tranquilised. Mika, true to form, did not waste any time to get squinted and stamp his authority on the newcomer. The fence, which by this time have been tested by both males, held up and only a few insults were exchanged by the two males.

Mika and the two females then decided to lay siege to poor Simba, moving around the boma day and night, roaring to their hearts content and taunting the poor cat in the boma. At length they all calmed down, and whilst not amicable, they did not look as though they would kill each other on sight!

Early on the morning of 20 June 2018, Jacque Fourie, our Reserve manager, decided that the time had come for Simba to leave his cosy boma for the larger reserve.

We first tried leaving the gates open, hoping that Mika and the females were not near. Simba however, was not going to leave a 5-star lion hotel with safe and secure fencing and a meal delivered every few days ready for the taking.

After a little while, Jacque decided to drive into the boma in a closed vehicle to ‘persuade’ Simba to leave. This only culminated in a growl and change of trees to lay under. He was not in the mood for leaving.

For such a beautiful cat Simba has a terrifying stare that would drive fear into the heart of many bush-wise men. Also, look at is tail. That swishing black tip is a sign to stay far away!

Unsuccessful to make him leave on his own, we decided to bait him with a snack. Duly a hunk of meat appeared outside his boma. This had his growling stomach interested immediately. With the gate open and camera’s ready, we waited with bated breath...

He made his way to the open gate, a few steps more, and he would be free and wild once more.

The first step over the threshold and a stare in our direction made his intentions known. In a flash he was on top of his snack. We on the other had made a dash to close the boma gate, lest Simba decided to run back into the boma.

We did not need to worry. With a last growl in our direction he left the area to eat his last free meal in peace.

Update on Simba, 22/06/2018:

Simba had a run-in with Mika, as predicted. Both a little bloodied, but no serious damage was reported. Simba decided to make his temporary domain to the east of Elephant lodge. He is monitored daily and in good condition.

Bushveld greetings
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