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They’re the iconic face of Africa. Majestic, proud and redolent with dreams of the African Bushveld. No visit to an African Game Lodge is complete without a sighting of these spectacular beasts. Richly entwined with the mythology of many African people, the lion is, indeed, the king of all he surveys - and Buffelsdrift Game Lodge is fortunate to offer a home to three beautiful lions of our own.
Sadly, despite their iconic place in folklore and the hearts of all who visit Africa, the lion is not exempt from the same pressures facing animals in the wild today. The three lions now at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge came to us through the N/a’an ku sê conservation project. One of the biggest issues faced in Big Cat, or even just predator, conservation is that you cannot raise large numbers of apex predators in one place in the same way you can herd animals. They need space to roam to meet their psychological needs and cannot be overcrowded. Any animal that is born in captivity, must stay in captivity and also may not breed in captivity.The 3 Buffelsdrift Game Lodge superstars came to us at 9 months old in January 2019, with the help of Dr Willem Burger. As with our elephants, the cubs were captive bred and they must unfortunately remain in captivity - which means they will never, ever be able to be safely released into the wild. Yet they needed the greater space open to them by Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, to play, roam, and live a life as close to the wild as possible, while raising awareness of the plight of SA’s lions and keeping them safe from the clutches of canned hunting rings and other nefarious human predators.
Our threesome was gifted with names as beautiful as they are. Shumba (‘lion’ in Shonga), Tonga (‘rule’ in Shona) and Safia (‘pure and wise’ in Swahili) have thrived in their time on the reserve, filling out from adorable cubs into healthy young ‘teens’. Shumba has grown into his role as alpha male, with Tonga joining him as the dominant of the two females. Safia is a little shyer. You don’t have to watch them for long for a true sense of these different personalities to come to you, and while they are all spectacular, you’re sure to find yourself a favourite, too!
A key reason the Trio couldn’t be released into the wild is that they were taken from their mother so young, they never learned to hunt like wild lions. This leaves them dependent on humans providing their food. Buffelsdrift Game Lodge relies on donations for the lion’s feed. Many times, local farmers will let us know that they have had a cow die of natural causes, and we will pick up and inspect the meat for the lions. Alternatively, we purchase meat for them, typically springbok.When you book a lion experience with Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, you’re directly contributing to the welfare of our 3 lions- but it’s not just their conservation you’ll be supporting. We also use the money raised from the lion experience to directly support a struggling local school, Vredelust Primary School. We believe that the future of conservation lies in the hands of the young, and ensuring that the children have a safe place to learn and study will help them secure a better future for them and their families.
Buffelsdrift Game Lodge is proud to serve as a kingpin among Karoo game lodges when it comes to conservation as well as community enrichment. We’re thrilled that our visitors can experience the beauties of the bush up close and personal with exciting activities like our lion experience, while also bolstering the efforts of conservationists and supporting our local people too. Keen to know a little more about the lions?Why not come and meet them yourself? We look forward to seeing you on a lion experience soon!