25 July 2011 by Kate Turkington

The White Lions of Pumba

If you want to see a pride of free-roaming white lions, make your way to Pumba Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. It’s only the second such pride in South Africa.

Remember Pumba, the oh-so-ugly but oh-so-loveable warthog in The Lion King? Well, Pumba Game Reserve has warthogs galore - down on their knees nibbling grass, or trotting perkily along in their own unique way, tails at right angles to body.

But you’re here to see the white lions. I drive with Justin Saunders, the knowledgeable young guide, past impala, blesbok, blue and black wildebeest and a breeding herd of elephants with tiny babies.

The pure white male and lioness hunt only part of the five biomes of the reserve because their gene pool must remain pure and not mix with their tawny cousins.  Justin tells me they have just produced two white cubs. If I’m lucky I might see them.

And there they are - dazzling in the early morning sunlight, father lying a few metres away from mother and babies.

By the way, don’t only look for the white lions. As dusk falls keep your eyes open for ghosts. Pumba is on the original farm, Cariega, which was first owned in 1813 by iconic Boer leader and trekker, Piet Retief, who together with many of his fellow trekkers met a bloody end at the hands of the Zulu leader, Dingaan.

Staff at the lodge shiver as darkness approaches and say they can still hear the footsteps of Retief and his murdered wife crossing the reserve. You’ll see horses hooves hung up at various points to warn off the ghosts.

www.pumbagamereserve.co.za

Category: Adventure

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