The african lion

April 25th of 2023

©Photography byAngela Riley

The African Lion (Panthera leo) is the largest catlike carnivore in Africa and the second largest in the world, besides the Tiger which you would find in India. Also, it is probably one of the most iconic and recognisable animals you would find on Safari while visiting Southern Africa.

Isambane Camp, being situated on Parsons Nature Reserve, is very fortunate being a part of the Greater Kruger meaning that we are connected to the Kruger National Park.

This allows us to have Lions roam our reserve, even getting as close as being in camp itself.
Waking up in the morning hearing that echoing bellow of a roar, imagining the two dominant males that we have patrolling the boundaries of their territories. There are not many things or sounds that get me more exhilarated, ready to jump on the vehicle and explore the bush.

The two dominant males that are situated on Parsons Nature Reserve originated from across the Olifants River, from a reserve called Olifants West. About 6 months ago they left and crossed over to Parsons and have started to establish their territory.

Coalitions of male lions don’t always have to be related but often is the case. Usually you will find coalitions of about 2-3 males, though there have been recorded coalitions of up to 7 or even more.

Taking over a pride with more males makes the transition of the takeover easier and more chances to parent more cubs. The males would monopolise a female once she has reached oestrus (a period when she is ready to mate) and out of respect, the other males would not mate with the same female.

From observing recent developments we can see that these males have been mating quite frequently with the females found on the reserve. Once a female is in oestrus, copulation will last about one minute and occur every 15 to 17 minutes. This will carry on for up to 7 days!Hopefully, with time, we will see a growth in the population of our lion pride. It fills me with joy knowing that in good time we might see lion cubs exploring Parsons Nature Reserve.

Since I started working on this reserve I was always under the impression that spotting lions was an easy task. They are usually only active throughout early mornings and late evenings, and when it comes to the heat of the day, they will sleep. If you go by what the book says, they supposedly sleep up to 20 hours a day. Surely in those 20 hours you must find them?? How wrong I was..

The two dominant males that patrol these areas are restless and walk massive distances stretching around the whole of the reserve at times. With our own observations there could be around 12 lions in Parsons moving in and out.

Ben Martens