Jack the lion settles in at new Shamwari home

Jack has been relocated from the Addo Elephant National Park to Shamwari Private Game Reserve
PARKING OFF: Jack has been relocated from the Addo Elephant National Park to Shamwari Private Game Reserve
Image: ESTER VAN DER MERWE

One of Addo Elephant National Park’s most popular inhabitants, Jack the lion, has a new forwarding address.

Four-year-old Jack was successfully relocated to the Shamwari Private Game Reserve, in Paterson, on Thursday morning. 

The move forms part of the carnivore management plan of the frontier region (the administrative area of the Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, Karoo and Mountain Zebra national parks). 

The idea is to restore or mimic the natural social dynamics of lion behaviour in large conservation systems such as 2-million hectare Kruger National Park or 3-million hectare Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

The tenure of dominant pride male coalitions averages three years and pride takeovers are mimicked by switching male coalitions across the parks, as was done in 2018.

SANParks spokesperson Fayroush Ludick said Jack had pure Kalahari genes, which would aid in improving the genetic integrity of Shamwari’s lion population.  

“Shamwari has two prides of lions in its reserve.

“It is hoped that Jack will join up with what is known as the Shamwari northern pride,”  Ludick said.

The Shamwari northern pride
SOCIAL BEINGS: The Shamwari northern pride
Image: JESSICA TYRER

According to SANparks, the lion population at Addo would remain small due to the drought, which had persisted for the past seven years. 

Keeping the lion population small would assist in the recovery of the prey species and the predator-prey dynamic of the park.

“After Jack’s move, only five lions will remain in the main game-viewing area. 

“The removal and reintroduction of male lions into and out of Addo also plays an important role in preventing inbreeding within this population and therefore aids in maintaining the genetic integrity of its lion population,” Ludick said. 

The Lion Management Forum, of which SANparks is a member, plays an important role in the management of wild lions in SA. 

It ensures lion metapopulation guidelines are adhered to and lions will only be relocated to parks or reserves that are members of the forum.

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